Nasa to send spacecraft to Saturn´s largest moon Titan

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"Flying on Titan is actually easier than flying on Earth ... so it's the best way to travel, and it's the best way to go long distances", Turtle said during a NASA webcast. The icy moon has shown evidence of liquid water and liquid methane, which means it could support life.

The drone is slated to launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034.

Titan is bigger than the planet Mercury and as geographically diverse as Earth.

NASA is sending a drone to explore Saturn's largest moon. It will eventually fly more than 175 km and become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.

Before it ended in 2017, the Cassini mission flew by Titan while studying Saturn.

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"The instruments on board will help us investigate organic chemistry, evaluate habitability and search for chemical signatures of past or even present life".

"NASA is pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and expanding the limits of technology". Dragonfly's ability to travel across the surface will let researchers visit several interesting sites over the course of the planned two year mission, potentially traveling hundreds of kilometers during that time.

Nasa said Dragonfly will first land on Titan's "Shangri-La" dune fields, similar to those in Namibia in southern Africa, making short flights around the region and collecting samples, before progressing to the Selk impact crater.

The rotorcraft will hop on the moon's surface in a series of leapfrog flights of up to eight km in order to take samples in diversified locations. By the time its baseline mission is complete, the drone will have covered 108 miles, almost double the distance traveled by all Mars rovers combined. "Titan is most comparable to early Earth". "Dragonfly will explore the processes that shape this extraordinary environment filled with organic compounds - the building blocks to life as we know it". It was able to reveal Titan's lakes and seas growing and shrinking with the seasons. Other organics are formed in the atmosphere and fall like light snow. Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earths.

Dragonfly is part of NASA's New Frontiers program, which is responsible for the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno mission now studying Jupiter and OSIRIS-REx, which is orbiting asteroid Bennu and planning to return samples back to Earth. Dragonfly is led by Principal Investigator Elizabeth Turtle, who is based at Johns Hopkins Universitys Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

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