Could a space helicopter find life on Saturn's moon Titan? (travel, vehicles)


EXCERPT: . . . Enter Dragonfly, a proposed mission to explore Titan’s surface using a lander equipped with helicopter-like propellers. Dragonfly’s mission could help us understand our own primordial evolution—or even discover extraterrestrial life.

Titan has some features reminiscent of Earth. There are clouds, lakes (albeit filled with oil, not water) and even tides. Storms form on Titan’s surface, just like on Earth. But Titan’s storms are made of methane, not water vapor. And although Titan’s temperature is well above absolute zero, it’s still absolutely freezing, with an average surface temperature of minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit, it has a dense atmosphere, so you wouldn’t need a pressurized space suit to walk around—just oxygen and many, many layers of very warm clothes.

While scientists don’t know yet if life could exist on Titan, Cassini-Huygens’ discovery of a buried saltwater ocean on Titan was a promising sign for primordial soup. Cassini-Huygens managed to find the ocean without ever getting its feet wet. Electromagnetic waves, like the ones that let your car stereo pick up your favorite country music, can tell scientists a lot about the materials they pass through.

[...] Dragonfly’s mobility on the surface would give it a big advantage over Cassini-Huygens in the search for methane. Dragonfly might find cryovolcanoes. It could also look for deeper deposits of carbon and signs of methane-producing life...

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RELATED: NASA May Decide This Year to Land a Drone on Saturn's Moon Titan ... Lecture on Dragonfly ... Dragonfly News & Resources

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