NASA Searching for Life on Titan
NASA’s Dragonfly mission to Titan first since 1976 to explicitly incorporate search for signs of life into mission goals.
WASHINGTON D.C. — NASA’s Dragonfly mission to the surface of Titan will be its first since 1976 to explicitly incorporate the search for signs of life into its mission goals, according to a new report published by its scientists in The Planetary Science Journal.
Launching in 2026 and arriving in 2034, Dragonfly is focused on Titan, the only one of Saturn’s moons with a substantial atmosphere and liquid on its surface, because many of the prebiotic chemical compounds that formed on early Earth have also formed in its atmosphere.
Previously the surface of Titan has proven impossible to study in detail because of that thick methane atmosphere, according to Phys.org, and thus the Dragonfly mission provides the first opportunity to study it in detail.
As it roams the surface of Titan, NASA’s Dragonfly Titan Rotorcraft Relocatable Lander will search for chemical biosignatures, investigate the moon's methane cycle and explore the prebiotic chemistry currently taking place both in its atmosphere and on its surface.
Previously, in 1997 the ESA's Huygen’s [c]probe travelled to Saturn aboard NASA’s Cassini orbiter before making its way down to Titan’s surface in 2005.
However, Alex Hayes, one Dragonfly co-investigator, told Phys.org that that mission was limited because at the time scientists had so little knowledge of what kind of surface Huygen’s would be landing on.
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