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NASA chooses Saturn's moon Titan as its next destination



A new mission involving a drone-like lander wants to explore the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. The mission – called Dragonfly – received a coveted funding slot from NASA's New Frontiers program, which funds ambitious missions to explore objects in our Solar System.

The Dragonfly mission wants to send a dual-quadcopter to the surface of Titan. It is looking like a drone, with eight rotors helping it soar across the moon's surface for at least a couple of hours under an hour. It wants to make one of these 'hops' about once every 16 days, spending a lot of time sampling the surface, and observing the weather. Elizabeth Turtle of John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Dragonfly was one of two finalists considered New Frontiers Award. The other, CAESAR, by Steve Squyres at Cornell University, and would like to take a piece of a comet's surface and bring it back to Earth.

The two missions had already made it through several competitive rounds before the final New Frontiers mission generally cost around $ 850 million to develop, making them slightly cheaper than the Agency's Discovery missions, like the Mars InSight countries, which cost about $ 81

4 million , or the Dawn spacecraft which costs $ 500 million.

Only three other missions have been funded through the New Frontiers program. The Juno spacecraft, in orbit around Jupiter, has been observing the giant planet's roiling atmosphere and magnetic field. New Horizons wooshed by Pluto in 2015, and a Kuiper Belt object in December of 2018. And OSIRIS-REX, asteroid-sampling mission currently in orbit around the asteroid Bennu, looking for a safe place to grab a sample next year ,

Saturn's moon Titan, whose bizarre chemistry and thick atmosphere have intrigued scientists for years, is like those missions, Dragonfly is about to expand its view of distant objects in the solar system. The Huygens probe, carried by Cassini gave us a first glimpse of the moon's surface. Then, Cassini revealed Titan had lakes of liquid methane on the surface – making it the only other body in our solar system. Dragonfly's ability to travel across the surface of a two-year mission.

Developing …


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