NASA To Send Dragonfly Drone To Saturn's Moon Titan

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NASA is planning to send a drone called Dragonfly to Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, the agency said while announcing its latest mission to explore the solar system to understand the origin of humans.

NASA To Send Dragonfly Drone To Saturn's Moon Titan

 

"Today I am proud to announce that our next New Frontiers mission, Dragonfly, will explore Saturn's largest moon, Titan," Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator said during a teleconference.

Dragonfly will be a golf-cart-sized drone featuring four propellers. It will embark on an eight-year-long journey in 2026. Its prime target is Titan, Saturn's moon, which is also said to have similarities with our planet.

The drone will also be the first drone lander that is capable of flying over 100 miles through Titan's thick atmosphere, Bridenstine said. "Titan is unlike any other place in our solar system, and the most comparable to early Earth," he added.

The instruments aboard the drone will study the habitability of Titan and look for chemical signatures of past or present life, Bridenstine said. Dragonfly will be the fourth outing under the space agency's Frontiers program. The initiative includes the New Horizons probe launched in 2006 to study Pluto and OSIRIS-REx that took flight in 2016 towards Bennu asteroid.

Besides, NASA's Astrobee robot called Bumble became the first of its kind to fly using its own power. The robot is built to help scientists test new technologies in zero gravity condition and carry out routine work with astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Commenting on its utility, Maria Bualat, Astrobee project manager, Ames Research Center, said: "The main purpose of the Astrobee platform is to provide a zero-gravity testbed for guest scientists to try out new robotic technologies in space."

Also, NASA's ambitious Mars Helicopter demo project has cleared a series of key tests, according to the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In 2021, the self-driven helicopter will become the first heavier-than-air vehicles to fly on another planet.

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