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NASA announces 'Dragonfly' mission to Titan


Posted on Thursday, 27 June, 2019 | Comment icon 36 comments

Dragonfly will be able to cover hundreds of miles. Image Credit: NASA
A new $850 million drone-like lander will be venturing on to (and above) the surface of Saturn's enigmatic moon.
The mission, which was picked as part of NASA's New Frontiers program, is being headed up by Elizabeth Turtle of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The lander itself looks very much like a drone with eight rotors that will enable it to not only land on the surface of Titan, but also to 'hop' between areas of interest once every 16 days.

"Titan is an incredibly unique opportunity scientifically," said Turtle. "Not only is it an ocean world - an icy satellite with a water ocean in its interior - but it is the only satellite with an atmosphere."

"And the atmosphere at Titan has methane in it, which leads to all sorts of rich organic chemistry happening at even the upper reaches of the atmosphere."

The nuclear-powered probe is expected to spend several years exploring over a wide area.

"We have the capacity, over the mission's lifetime, to go hundreds of kilometers," said Turtle. "One of the advantages we have is that we can always scout the next site. We can fly ahead, look at it, see what kind of terrain there is, and decide whether we want to go there or elsewhere."

The mission is set to launch in 2026.


Comments (36)

Tags: Dragonfly, Titan

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #27 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 July, 2019, 8:58
It kills marine life and gets in the food chain. It. Very much affects us all in a very real way.
Comment icon #28 Posted by joc on 12 July, 2019, 12:01
Marine life kills marine life.   So we should fear the giant swirling dump in the pacific?  Which in reality...given relevant size of the pacific is like a dirt clod in the middle of the Sahara?
Comment icon #29 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 July, 2019, 12:27
I mean, yeah, if you eat seafood and you enjoy plastic and associated toxins in your diet, then by all means, don't give a **** about the environment. 80.000 tons of plastic is a little more than a dirt clod in the middle of the Sahara. If you truly don't believe that the amount of plastic in the ocean isn't an issue and doesn't affect you in any way, then i cannot even being to express how naive you're being
Comment icon #30 Posted by joc on 12 July, 2019, 14:56
Hmmm...let me take a quick inventory of my immediate surroundings.  Refrigerator:  Plastic Milk Carton...Plastic...pretty much everything.  Plastic all around my house.  My toothbrush is made of plastic.  The water I take with me to work is in a plastic bottle.  Yep, pretty sure I'm going to die...from plastic.  I think Naive is a term that really cannot be used in conjunction with my mind set.  In short...the trash in the ocean isn't effecting anyone's lives.  Guess what...we are all going to die and guess what else...it isn't going to be as a result from plastic in the Pacific Ocean.  
Comment icon #31 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 July, 2019, 20:40
60 years ago you'd be singing the praises of DDT. Probably think asbestos is gods gift to mankind.
Comment icon #32 Posted by joc on 13 July, 2019, 3:47
So...are you saying that an Island of swirling trash in the Pacific Ocean is as dangerous as DDT or Asbestos? Please explain that correlation.  DDT was sprayed on people's direct properties.  Asbestos affected people who came in direct contact with it. What exactly are the dire circumstances of a dirt clod in the Pacific Ocean as it relates  to the detriment of mankind?
Comment icon #33 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 13 July, 2019, 4:17
How is this so difficult for you? Marine life eats plastic. We eat marine life that is now filled with plastic. Eating plastic is not good for you. 
Comment icon #34 Posted by joc on 13 July, 2019, 13:28
If you are concerned about mercury in tuna...don't eat tuna. If you are going to worry about plastic ingestion in your salmon or crab or halibut...don't eat that either. If you are concerned about pesticides on your vegetables...eat only organic.  What is all this handwringing about?  What is the solution to rid the oceans of plastic?  We live in a world of trash...we create huge landfill mountains to hold our trash.  Looks like the oceans are doing the same thing.  What are we going to do about it?  ...nothing...so it is a moot point I think.  Sad...but moot.
Comment icon #35 Posted by toast on 13 July, 2019, 14:37
I`m in the opinion you didnt understood the key problem. Your refrigerator, milk cartons and all the things made out of plastic you are using, are not a problem in the first place (besides the evaporation of chemical substances such as plasticizers and other chemical agents, but thats another story). The problem comes up when plastics get wasted outside the recommended chains. Example, the 80K tons blop in the ocean. This stuff get decomposed by sunlight, see water and friction, reshaping it to micro plastic particles. These particles penetrate and pollute the food chain of sea animals, so hum... [More]
Comment icon #36 Posted by joc on 13 July, 2019, 15:34
And what are those micro-particles going to do to me...and are they even measurable?


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