New Drone Set to Land on Saturn's Moon by 2034
by Theodore B. Morrison, age 14
Titan, a moon of Saturn, will soon host a new drone mission by NASA, nicknamed “Dragonfly.” The mission will aim to answer questions related to the moon's Earth-like environment.
The Saturn moon only has 14% of Earth’s gravity but shares geological features such as valleys, mountain ridges, mesas, and dunes. During one recent mission, a probe broadcasted a 2.5-hour film to NASA as it descended into Titan’s atmosphere. The broadcast revealed the presence of ice and shorelines, similar to Earth.
Titan houses one of the only sanctuaries for living organisms to exist in this solar system. The organism in Titan has been labelled as tholins and are complex organic molecules that have been subjected to radiation and sunlight for long swathes of time.
“For every question we answered during the Cassini mission’s exploration of Titan from Saturn orbit, we gained 10 new ones,”an associate professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, Alex Hayes.
The moon of Saturn has the potential to solve the question of how life emerged into the solar system earlier in its history. The drone will launch in 2027 and is scheduled to arrive on Titan in 2034, allowing for a two-year period for exploration and discovery on the negative 290-Fahrenheit moon.
Titan may answer questions that scientists have pondered for years. This drone will be a milestone in an effort to explore the wider Milky Way.