NASA: Dragonfly Mission to Titan

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NASA: Dragonfly Mission to Titan

Post by bystander » Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:13 pm

Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs of Life
NASA | New Frontiers Program | Dragonfly | 2019 Jun 27
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Destination: Titan ~ Credit: JHU APL
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.

Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.

Titan is an analog to the very early Earth, and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet. During its 2.7-year baseline mission, Dragonfly will explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years. Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs. Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life. ...

Destination: Titan
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory | Dragonfly | 2019 Jun 27
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Re: NASA: Dragonfly Mission to Titan

Post by neufer » Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:15 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly_(spacecraft) wrote:

<<Dragonfly will be a rotorcraft lander, much like a large quadcopter with double rotors, an octocopter. Such redundant rotor configuration would be able to tolerate the loss of at least one rotor or motor. Each of the eight rotors would be about 1 m in diameter. The aircraft would travel at about 10 m/s or 36 km/h and climb to an altitude of 4 km.

Aerial flight on Titan is aerodynamically benign as Titan has low gravity, low winds, and its thick atmosphere allows for efficient rotor propulsion. The RTG power source has been proven in multiple spacecraft, and the extensive use of quad drones on Earth provides a well-understood flight system that is being complemented with algorithms for independent actions in real time. The craft will be designed to operate under space radiation and temperatures averaging 94 K.

The power required to hover a given mass on Titan is about 2.6 percent that required on Earth, due to Titan's denser atmosphere and lower gravity. The atmosphere is about four times as thick as Earth's, and local gravity (13.8% of Earth's) would make it easier to fly, although cold temperatures and lower light must be contended with. Also a higher atmospheric drag on the craft has to be taken into account. The rotorcraft could travel significant distances, powered by a battery that would be recharged by a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) during the night. The rotorcraft will be able to travel tens of kilometers on every battery charge and stay aloft for a few hours each time. The vehicle will use sensors to scout new science targets, returning to the original site until new landing locations are verified as safe by mission controllers.

Preliminary studies and modeling contemplate a baseline 450 kg mass for the rotorcraft packed in a 3.7 m diameter heatshield. Samples would be obtained by two sample acquisition drills and hoses, one on each landing skid, for delivery to the mass spectrometer instrument.

The craft will remain on the ground during the Titan nights, which last about 8 Earth days. Activities during the night would include sample collection and analysis, seismological studies, meteorological monitoring, and local microscopic imaging using LED illuminators as flown on Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover. The craft will communicate directly to Earth with a high-gain antenna.>>
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PSI: Dragonfly to Study Titan For Origins, Signs of Life

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:12 pm

Dragonfly to Study Titan For Origins, Signs of Life
Planetary Science Institute | 2019 Jul 01

NASA has announced funding for the Dragonfly mission, featuring a drone-like rotorcraft lander that would explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites on Saturn’s moon Titan.

The Dragonfly mission, part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, will sample materials and determine surface composition to investigate Titan's organic chemistry and habitability, monitor atmospheric and surface conditions, image landforms to investigate geological processes, and perform seismic studies.

Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientists R. Aileen Yingst and Catherine Neish will be Co-Investigators on the Dragonfly mission.

Neish will study Titan’s geology, with a particular focus on impact cratering, volcanism, and aqueous surface chemistry. Yingst will research what geologic processes have been – and currently are – active on Titan. ...

Elizabeth Turtle, lead investigator on Dragonfly, worked at PSI from 2002-2006 and is now at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which manages the mission for NASA.

The mission is slated to launch in 2026 and reach Titan in 2034. ...
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SMU: 'Titan in a Jar' Could Answer Questions Ahead of NASA Mission

Post by bystander » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:09 pm

'Titan in a Jar' Could Answer Questions Ahead of NASA Mission
Southern Methodist University | 2019 Jul 03

Researchers from Southern Methodist University (SMU) could help determine if Saturn’s icy moon – Titan – has ever been home to life long before NASA completes an exploratory visit to its surface by a drone helicopter. ...

SMU was awarded a $195,000 grant, also in June, to reproduce what is happening on Titan in a laboratory setting. The project, funded by the Houston-based Welch Foundation, will be led by Tom Runčevski ...

Before the rotorcraft lands on Titan, chemists from SMU will be recreating the conditions on Titan in multiple glass cylinders — each the size of a needle top — so they can learn about what kind of chemical structures could form on Titan’s surface. The knowledge on these structures can ultimately help assess the possibility of life on Titan — whether in the past, present or future. ...

In order to create these “Titans in a jar” at SMU, Runčevski said they will use information about the conditions on Titan that were obtained during the mission Cassini-Huygens, which ended two years ago.

“We can recreate this world step by step in a cylinder made of glass,” he said. “First, we will introduce water, which freezes into ice. Second, we will top that layer of ice with ethane that liquidizes as a ‘lake.’ Then we will fill the remaining cylinder with nitrogen.”

After that, they can introduce different molecules into the system, mimicking the rainfall. Lastly, they will “dry” the lakes by slightly raising the temperature and produce the surface of the moon. The cylinder that this moon will be created inside is specifically designed, so that multiple state-of-the-art experiments can be done and they can learn from the structure of the real Titan. ...
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
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