Drones are becoming widespread on Earth, seeing more and more use in entertainment and productivity. Now it is time for Saturn’s moon Titan to be annoyed by all that buzzing. NASA plans on sending a space drone named Dragonfly to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The space agency has declared that the drone will visit multiple locations on Titan.
That will be done to uncover if the moon’s methane ocean can or could support life. It is believed that the sizeable moon has all the ingredients to support life, being quite similar to an early Earth.
NASA’s Dragonfly drone to study Titan
Project Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and is expected to reach Titan in 2034. The mission will have the advantage of picking and choosing landing time frames and landing zones. That is because of the data provided by the previous mission, in which the Cassini probe had studied the region for 13 years.
The craft will be equipped with eight rotors and will be operated much in the same way as a large drone. This will mark the first use of a multi-rotor vehicle in NASA’s space exploration missions.
Dragonfly drone’s mission is to study Titan’s methane lakes
NASA will have the drone fly to multiple locations to gather data and deliver payloads. First maneuvers will consist of a series of short hops that will cover 5 miles each. This will lead the drone to cover 108 miles, which is more than all the Mars rovers combined. Dragonfly will spend a minimum of 2.7 years on the moon. This time will allow it to explore sand dunes, impact craters, and locations with visible liquid methane.
This will not mean that the drone will have an easy time on its missions as the conditions on the moon are very tough, even for a machine. Surface temperatures on the moon are about -179 Celsius, the atmosphere is four times thicker than Earth, and the pressure is 50 percent higher. The atmosphere is nitrogen-based, and precipitation comes in the form of liquid methane.