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Current Affairs

NASA to launch Dragonfly Mission to Titan

Date: 01 July 2019 Tags: Space

US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it will send a multi-rotor vehicle called Dragonfly to Saturn’s largest moon Titan. It will be launched in 2026 and will arrive at its destination in 2034.

Dragonfly mission

  • It is part of NASA’s quest to search for building blocks of life and will aim towards collecting samples and examining sites around Titan.
  • Mission Objective: Dragonfly multi-rotor vehicle will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth.
  • Specifications of Dragonfly: It has eight rotors and flies like large drone. Instruments fitted on it will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.
  • Significance: It will be for first time NASA will fly multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet. It will also be first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.

About Titan

  • It is Saturn’s largest moon and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter's moon Ganymede. It has diameter of 5,150 km. It has no known moon, but it is possible it may have moons.
  • Surface composition: It is icy moon with surface of rock-hard water ice. It is also likely has a liquid water ocean beneath its surface. It is known to have liquid rivers, lakes and seas on its surface mainly contain hydrocarbons like methane and ethane and not water.
  • Atmosphere: It is the only moon in the solar system known to have substantial atmosphere, which is mostly nitrogen like Earth’s and is 4 times denser than Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Location: Titan orbits Saturn, which orbits the Sun at a distance of about 886 million miles, about 10 times farther from the Sun than Earth orbits.