NASA plans to send a drone to Saturn's largest moon

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The interplanetary technology Nasa is deploying to reach Titan, perhaps as soon as 2034, is an offshoot of modern drone technology.

The mission won't launch until 2026.

"NASA's missions of planetary exploration are one of the coolest things that we humans do as a species", Barnes says in a statement.

Titan is the gorgeous teal-colored icy moon that was discovered by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1655.

The U.S. based space agency is set to fly a robot to Saturn's moon Titan in hopes to find living organisms. Once it arrives, NASA intends to send the lander to dozens of different locations on Titan, ones it has identified as "promising" for studying prebiotic chemical processes. Thanks to the thick cover of Titan's atmosphere and its distance from the sun, Dragonfly can't rely on solar power, and will instead carry a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), a nuclear power source like the one the Curiosity rover uses on Mars.

On Earth, sunlight provides organic life growing in fields and forests; the same sunlight that triggers chemical reactions in Titan's upper atmosphere that create large organic molecules that pour down on the moon's surface, something similar like Earth's rainwater. The moon is also filled with organic materials, and is thought to be similar to what early Earth might have looked like, before life formed, but with numerous same ingredients.

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Dragonfly should be able to measure the progression to determine if life is beginning to form and, if so, how far along it is.

Dragonfly is to travel hundreds of kilometers in Titan's atmosphere during the mission that will last about two-and-a-half-years.

"Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe, " said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but were now ready for Dragonflys awesome flight.

Dragonfly was selected as part of the agencys New Frontiers program, which includes the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu.

Dragonfly, the project will essentially be a microwave-sized large helicopter drone that will fly across multiple locations on Titan and will touch down on dunes and the floor of an impact crater above the surface. Unlike Earth, Titan has clouds and rain of methane.

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