If there's one thing you can definitely say about NASA, it's that they like to plan ahead. Despite more pressing ambitions such as returning to the moon, launching a new Mars rover, and planning a manned mission to the Red Planet, NASA today announced that it is already looking for new adventures and wants to begin with Saturn's Moon Titan.
] The space agency announced today that it plans to launch a mission called Dragonfly, which sends a drone helicopter to the cold moon in search of knowledge and maybe even life. Dragonfly will not start for some time. The current start date is scheduled for 2026. It will take eight years for the journey to actually begin, but as soon as it arrives, it could make some surprises for us.
NASA will select dozens of places on Titan that appear as promising points of interest. Because it is an airborne drone and not a rover, Dragonfly will be able to reach these locations relatively quickly and provide a wealth of information and observations in less time.
"With the Dragonfly mission, NASA will do so again, which no one else can do," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement. "Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe. This state-of-the-art mission would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but now we're ready for Dragonfly's incredible flight. "
Titan is known for its huge lakes, which are not filled with water, but with hydrocarbons that are cold until cool, indicating that they become liquid rather than gaseous when we observe them here on Earth. Dragonfly will be equipped with the tools to inspect material samples for evidence of present or past lives, and NASA is not sure what it might find.
"Titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and Dragonfly is like no other mission," said Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA. "It is remarkable to think of this hub that flies for miles across the organic sand dunes of Saturn's largest moon, exploring the processes that make up this extraordinary environment." Dragonfly will visit a world filled with a multitude of organic compounds that are the building blocks Of life and can explain to us the origin of life itself. "