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Mission Dragonfly will land a drone on Saturn's moon Titan
Scientists want to send a drone to Saturn's moon.
The world got a sneak peek of Saturn's largest moon Titan when ESA's Huygen probe successfully landed on its surface, thanks to NASA's Cassini spacecraft on January 14, 2005. This was the farthest landing from Earth in the history. Unfortunately, the probe ran out of battery power in only a few hours.
Scientists from the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory have been poised to get back on Titan ever since. But, instead of sending a probe, the team wants to send a drone that will be capable of exploring the moon from above its surface - but still below the thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere.
"We didn't know how Titan worked as a system before Cassini got there. We had tantalizing hints, but Cassini and Huygens really took it from [being] this mysterious moon to [being] a place that is incredibly familiar," principal investigator for Dragonfly and scientist at Johns Hopkins University Elizabeth Turtle told Space.com.
The mission called Dragonfly will explore the most promising and potentially habitable sites on Titan. The astronomers want to take the advantage of Titan's low gravity and thick atmosphere to visit several sites with the drone.
If NASA chooses the proposed mission, it might turn into reality by the mid of 2020. The team behind the Dragonfly offered a detailed concept in December last year, and are waiting for NASA's decision, reported Space.com. If the mission gets a green light, the Dragonfly mission would launch around the year 2025 to land on Titan's nine years later.
"Not only is this an incredibly exciting concept with amazing, compelling science, but also, it is doable - it's feasible from an engineering standpoint," Melissa Trainer, Dragonfly's deputy principal investigator, and scientist at NASA told Space.com.