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SPACE FANTASY #80: NASA WILL SEND A DRAGONFLY HELICOPTER TO HUNT FOR LIFE ON SATURN'S BIGGEST MOON

NASA WILL SEND A HELICOPTER TO HUNT FOR LIFE ON SATURN'S BIGGEST MOON

ON WEDNESDAY, NASA announced it will send a spacecraft to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the leading candidates for finding extraterrestrial microbial life in our solar system. The Dragonfly mission will involve a small, drone-like rotorcraft lander that will be able to fly in small hops across Titan’s surface, covering more distance during its two-year mission than any planetary rover in history. Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2025 and will land on Titan in 2034, after a 840-million-mile journey from Earth. Once the Dragonfly craft lands on the surface of the moon, it will use its eight rotors to perform short flights once every Titan day (about 16 Earth days). According to its initial designs, the craft will be able to propel itself at about 20 miles per hour and fly to altitudes of a little over 2 miles. It will be powered by the heat produced by the decay of plutonium-238. Despite the Dragonfly spacecraft’s unique flying abilities, most of its time on Titan will be spent on the surface. During its approximately two-year mission, Dragonfly will study the moon’s atmospheric and geologic composition, survey the landscape, and probe for conditions and chemicals relevant to biological processes. Source

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