We all heard about moons. They are the natural satellites of a planet. In our childhood days, many questions arise in our minds like, what is actually inside the moon? How to go there? etc. Our planet Earth has one moon. Like that, do the other planets have only one moon? No, Saturn has 82 moons and out of these, 53 moons are confirmed and named, but 29 moons are still in research. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. Also, it is the second-largest natural satellite in the Solar system.
NASA had planned to send a rotorcraft named dragonfly to research Titan. The main idea of research is to confirm whether Titan has a thick atmosphere which consists of liquid methane and nitrogen gas, and also whether water is present in the solid-state. If so, there is more chance of forming alien life. With the help of a Huygens lander sent by the European Space Agency, they tested the Titan’s surface and provided evidence for the presence of water on the surface of the Titan.
Plan of mission:
This mission was planned to be executed in April 2026. It will land on Titan in December 2034. The approximate distance between Earth and Titan is about 12 lakh kilometers. So, the spacecraft will use the assistance of gravity from Venus and Earth to gain additional velocity. The spacecraft used for the mission is ATLAS V 411. The payload will separate from the spacecraft before 10 minutes of reaching the Titan’s atmosphere. Then, with the help of a parachute, the rotorcraft will land on Titan. Rotorcraft will land on Shangri-La, one of the darkest regions in Titan.
The total weight of rotorcraft is about 450 kgs. Rotorcraft is like a quadcopter that uses MMRTG (Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermo-electric Generator) as a power source. It can travel at a velocity of 10 m/s and height of 4 kms. It travels to various places in Titan and does many types of research about the origin of life there. The rotorcraft was designed in such a way that it can withstand the high pressure, temperature and low gravity of Titan. There are many components used in it.
Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer is used to study the chemical composition of Titan to research the origin of life there.
Dragonfly Gamma-ray and Neutron Spectrometer is used for underground research, surface research, and composition.
Dragonfly Geophysics and Meteorology package includes a seismometer which is used to perform research in Titan.
It is a camera used to take a photograph of the Titan surface. It consists of a set of microscopic and panoramic cameras.