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Thread: NASA approves Titan lander-hopper Dragonfly to test chemistry & look for life

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    NASA approves Titan lander-hopper Dragonfly to test chemistry & look for life

    NASA has approved the Dragonfly lander-hopper mission to Titan to set off from Earth in 2026 and touch down on Saturnís largest moon in 2034.

    Their press release says: "Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moonís atmospheric and surface properties... Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life."

    Dragonfly was made public as a concept about 2 years ago. The probe is intended to spend most of its time sitting on the surface performing tests, but will use a set of 8 rotors to hop about from one site to another. This method of moving around is facilitated by Titan's low surface gravity and thick atmosphere.

    Exciting news for those interested in the origins of life and how much of it there is in the universe.

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    a real question (not tongue-in-cheek): for this probe, it's not an issue going totally upside-down?

    edit: after a visit to wikipedia, i understand it's a sort of high-end helicopter toy : not a stupid stumbling cube as I understood at first :-/
    Last edited by Barabino; 2019-Jul-02 at 06:36 AM.

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    search for extraterrestrial life aside, NASA has any plan for watching closer the interesting, zero-waves :-? , lakes of Titan? I long to watch them close since 2008...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_of_Titan

    I wonder whether they are "simply" frozen solid-phase icy lakes or dense tar puddles... a landscape feature uncommon on present-day earth but occasionally observed for real in oil-rich countries...
    Last edited by Barabino; 2019-Jul-02 at 09:51 AM.

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    reading better wikipedia, now I understand those damn lakes must be simply frozen, not extra-viscous...

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    Duplicate Thread Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    NASA has approved the Dragonfly lander-hopper mission to Titan to set off from Earth in 2026 and touch down on Saturnís largest moon in 2034.

    Their press release says: "Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moonís atmospheric and surface properties... Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life."

    Dragonfly was made public as a concept about 2 years ago. The probe is intended to spend most of its time sitting on the surface performing tests, but will use a set of 8 rotors to hop about from one site to another. This method of moving around is facilitated by Titan's low surface gravity and thick atmosphere.

    Exciting news for those interested in the origins of life and how much of it there is in the universe.
    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...ssion-to-Titan

    Selvaachi has the jump on you by a day:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabino View Post
    search for extraterrestrial life aside, NASA has any plan for watching closer the interesting, zero-waves :-? , lakes of Titan? I long to watch them close since 2008...
    There have been a couple of studies of ways of examining the lakes more closely, but NASA hasn't yet given any plan the go-ahead. Apparently it is unfeasible for Dragonfly to visit the lakes because it would lose line-of-sight communication with Earth.

    URL="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_of_Titan"]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_of_Titan[/URL]

    I wonder whether they are "simply" frozen solid-phase icy lakes or dense tar puddles... a landscape feature uncommon on present-day earth but occasionally observed for real in oil-rich countries...
    Quote Originally Posted by Barabino View Post
    reading better wikipedia, now I understand those damn lakes must be simply frozen, not extra-viscous...
    Wikipedia mentions a theory that they're partially frozen.

    I don't think it's likely that they have the character of dense tar puddles. It's true that tar is composed of hydrocarbon, as are methane and ethane. But it's the length of the carbon chains which gives tar its density and viscosity. Ethane has the shortest possible chain (2 carbon atoms), while a methane molecule has no carbon chain at all because it's a single carbon atom surrounded by hydrogens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Mendenhall View Post
    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...ssion-to-Titan

    Selvaachi has the jump on you by a day:
    Selvaarchi's thread is focused on Dragonfly's engineering, this one is about its relevance to the search for life.
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2019-Jul-03 at 01:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    There have been a couple of studies of ways of examining the lakes more closely, but NASA hasn't yet given any plan the go-ahead. Apparently it is unfeasible for Dragonfly to visit the lakes because it would lose line-of-sight communication with Earth.


    Wikipedia mentions a theory that they're partially frozen.

    I don't think it's likely that they have the character of dense tar puddles. It's true that tar is composed of hydrocarbon, as are methane and ethane. But it's the length of the carbon chains which gives tar its density and viscosity. Ethane has the shortest possible chain (2 carbon atoms), while a methane molecule has no carbon chain at all because it's a single carbon atom surrounded by hydrogens.
    so it's a "subtle" (watery, not viscous) liquid but the wind makes no waves in it... i'ts a mistery! on the earth, even on small local lakes (not the big global sea), wind can make waves as high as a few cms...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabino View Post
    so it's a "subtle" (watery, not viscous) liquid but the wind makes no waves in it... i'ts a mistery! on the earth, even on small local lakes (not the big global sea), wind can make waves as high as a few cms...
    Wikipedia mentions a theory that they are partially frozen, and that some of the ice has formed a crust over the surface. Normally methane ice is heavier than liquid methane, so would sink to the bottom. But bubbles of nitrogen can make it lighter, enabling it to float. The lakes could have a sandwich-like structure — ice on the top, ice on the bottom, subtle liquid in between.

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    Electrostatic charging by DragonFly's props .. an interesting unexpected design issue?:

    The electric sands of Titan: The grains that cover Saturn's moon act like clingy packing peanuts

    "If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties," said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. "Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts."

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