Last week, NASA announced its next New Frontiers mission: a nuclear-powered drone named Dragonfly heading to Titan. This astrobiology mission is set to search our solar system’s second largest moon for signs of life. It’s exciting aerodynamically, as well, since Titan’s thick atmosphere makes it uniquely suited for heavier-than-air flight. Therefore, rather than using wheeled rovers like we have on Mars, Dragonfly is a rotorcraft. It will be capable of traveling up to 8km per flight, which will quickly surpass the fewer than 21km the Curiosity Rover has managed on Mars!
Like Earth, Titan has rainfall and open liquid bodies on its surface. I, for one, can’t wait to see the alien vistas Dragonfly sends back as it cruises over methane lakes. (Image and video credit: NASA)