The largest satellite of the planet Saturn by rightIt is considered Titan, which, despite the low air temperature and ice surface, its atmosphere and the stable presence of water are very similar to the Earth in the early stages of its development. This is precisely what makes it interesting for scientists - it is assumed that microorganisms that can be visible with the naked eye can exist in its underground reservoirs. NASA Space Agency intends to search for them as part of its next program, Dragonfly.
The launch of the mission is scheduled to take place until 2026.year - in this case, according to the calculations of scientists, the same-named spacecraft will reach Titan in 2034. Since the air temperature on the satellite of Saturn is -179 degrees Celsius, and the surface is almost completely covered with liquid, the use of tracked and wheeled vehicles on a space object is simply impossible. Therefore, the agency decided that the research apparatus would be made in the form of a helicopter.
Dragonfly's mission to find life on Titan
The size of the helicopter will be comparable to the studentMars apparatus "Curiosity", the length, width and height of which are 3.1 × 2.7 × 2.1 meters. On the lower part of the helicopter, there will be installed polos for sliding along the ice surface, and four propellers will be located along the edges. It is expected that the device will be able to rise to an altitude of 4000 meters, reach speeds of up to 36 kilometers per hour and travel 8 kilometers at a time.
In one day the unit will flya distance of 175 kilometers and will study the structure of the satellite and its meteorological indicators. The main place of work of the device will be the 90-kilometer-long impact crater Selk, which once upon a time could maintain the conditions for the life of microscopic organisms.
Titan is like no other object inSolar system, and "Dragonfly" is not like any other mission. The helicopter we create will fly across the sand dunes of Saturn’s largest satellite, exploring the processes that form its extraordinary environment, ”explained Tomas Zurbuhen, NASA Assistant Director for Scientific Missions.
Starting the Dragonfly
According to Zurbuhen, NASA willexplore the world filled with a variety of organic compounds that are the building blocks of life and can tell about its origin. With the help of which rocket the vehicle will be launched, it is still unknown, but it is planned to lower it onto a Titan terrain called Shangri-La using parachutes. The mission must last at least two years.
Titan is an interesting place not only forsearch for extraterrestrial life, but also for colonization. About this in 2018 was written in the scientific journal Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach - the authors believe that its huge hydrocarbon reserves (on Earth are contained in large quantities in crude oil) can be used by colonists for energy extraction.
We advise you to read:
Why can a colony on Titan be better than a Martian?
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