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Thread: NASA's Dragonfly mission to Titan

  1. #1
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    NASA's Dragonfly mission to Titan

    After Cassini's successful mission completed, NASA is stepping up a gear and sending a helicopter to Titan.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason...dragonfly.html

    NASA's newest planetary science mission is a quadcopter that will fly around the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan, the agency announced today. Sporting 8 rotors and a nuclear power source like the Mars Curiosity rover, Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034. The mission will build on key discoveries made by Cassini, which saw its 13-year mission at Saturn end in 2017.
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    After Cassini's successful mission completed, NASA is stepping up a gear and sending a helicopter to Titan.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason...dragonfly.html
    This sounds like a great idea; it certainly enables much more ground to be covered than would a wheeled (or floating) rover.

    It's certainly easier to get a helicopter to fly on Titan than Mars! I'm sure somebody is going to chime in with the impossibility of it all, but they should go read Wayne Johnson's work on helicopter aerodynamics, then get back to us first.
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    Where is the submarine on Titan I was promised two years ago?
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    I Feel a Chill

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Where is the submarine on Titan I was promised two years ago?
    Submerged.

    Sorry, Roger, couldn't resist it.

    Seriously, great news !! A quad drone at one and a half atmospheres and 90 degrees kelvin.

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    I was promised a submarine on Titan and I will speak to my lawyers and congressman about this.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Got off the phone after being reassured that NASA is still working on a submarine for Titan. Having problems with "bubbles" though. Lawyers will get everything done.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...428?via%3Dihub
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    This sounds like a great idea; it certainly enables much more ground to be covered than would a wheeled (or floating) rover. It's certainly easier to get a helicopter to fly on Titan than Mars!
    Well said.

    The idea itself was made public about 2 years ago. The news today is that the NASA New Frontiers program has approved it and given it a time slot.

    I'm sure somebody is going to chime in with the impossibility of it all, but they should go read Wayne Johnson's work on helicopter aerodynamics, then get back to us first.
    See this Life in Space thread about Dragonfly started in August 2017.

    Another Life in Space thread, with some arguments about whether or not it's likely to work, after it got onto NASA's short list...
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2019-Jun-28 at 02:42 AM.

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    Titan's lower atmosphere is over 5% methane (majority nitrogen). I wonder, if you brought along your own oxygen supply, if you could power either a jet or an internal combustion engine by burning Titan's atmosphere with oxygen?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Titan's lower atmosphere is over 5% methane (majority nitrogen). I wonder, if you brought along your own oxygen supply, if you could power either a jet or an internal combustion engine by burning Titan's atmosphere with oxygen?
    Might there be methane rich clouds that cause engine malfuctions or explosions? Not sure how methane is replentished there.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Titan's lower atmosphere is over 5% methane (majority nitrogen). I wonder, if you brought along your own oxygen supply, if you could power either a jet or an internal combustion engine by burning Titan's atmosphere with oxygen?
    I think the wikipedia article on flammability diagrams answers my question. The example they give happens to be nitrogen-methane-oxygen. I think the Titan atmosphere mixed with oxygen would be represented nominally with a line draw from 95% nitrogen on the right to 5% methane on the left. The line just skirts the bottom of the region of flammability, so I think such an engine could work.
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    If they're going all the way back to the Saturn system again I hope they piggyback a sample collection probe to collect & return samples of Enceladus' geyser-like plumes....I'll let the engineers figure it out ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I think the wikipedia article on flammability diagrams answers my question. The example they give happens to be nitrogen-methane-oxygen. I think the Titan atmosphere mixed with oxygen would be represented nominally with a line draw from 95% nitrogen on the right to 5% methane on the left. The line just skirts the bottom of the region of flammability, so I think such an engine could work.
    It might well be possible. But how economical would it be to bring along your own oxygen supply for such an engine, compared to bringing a radio-isotope for an energy source as planned for Dragonfly?

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    "Dragonfly Mission to Study Titan for Origins, Signs of Life"

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Dr..._Life_999.html

    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.
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    "NASA delays Dragonfly launch by a year"

    https://spacenews.com/nasa-delays-dr...nch-by-a-year/

    NASA has delayed the launch of a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan by a year, citing budget challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a Sept. 25 statement, NASA said the Dragonfly mission, which had been scheduled to launch in 2026, will instead launch in 2027. The change in launch date will not otherwise affect the design of the mission or the science it will perform.
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