Titan – one of the most mysterious satellites of Saturn – has long attracted the attention of NASA scientists. It is possible that one of the missions of the next decade will be sent there, although the competition among the applicants is quite high. For his research, the specialists of the Laboratory of Applied Physics, Johns Hopkins developed the concept of a new multi-copter, which was named Dragonfly (“Dragonfly”).
Dragonfly is designed to take into account the low gravity of Titan and its dense atmosphere, which makes the use of solar cells impossible. As a power source, a radioisotope thermoelectric generator similar to that used by the Curiosity rover on Mars will be installed on it. It will allow the copter to fly during the day and be recharged at night.
Aerial mobility Dragonfly will significantly expand the range of collected samples and produced measurements. According to the calculations of engineers, for one hour of flight the copter can overcome the distance from 10 to 20 kilometers. This means that within the framework of a two-year mission, the device will be able to investigate a considerable portion of the surface of Titan. For one jump, Dragonfly will be able to cover a greater distance than Curiosity overcame in four years.
To date, the Dragonfly project is one of the 12 contenders for the main prize of the competition, which is held by NASA in the framework of the New Frontiers program. The final winner will be announced in mid-2019, and the launch of the mission is scheduled for 2025 .