Image Source: NASA/ JHU-APL

Saturn is a planet that lies after Jupiter and is a beautiful planet with rings around it. Its moon known as Titan might be the place where life can exist. Yes, you read it right, according to research by NASA’s researchers, Titan may have all the essentials which are needed for the existence of life. NASA recently announced its new mission called Dragonfly to study the icy space object to gather information and know whether the life can exist on the moon of the planet Saturn or not. According to the scientists, Titan is very identical to the early Earth, as it is in the condition as our Earth was its very starting days. NASA conveyed that there is a high possibility that the research can provide a hint of how life may have started on the Earth. It was also observed that Titan has lakes and seas across the northern half and it also rains in the sandy surface of the Saturn’s moon which depicts that Titan is relatable to the Earth. Titan is an icy cold moon as the water there is in the form of hard rock ice and it isn’t the water that rains out of the clouds on Titan as it is methane which falls off the sky. The beaches there are made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen which is not even close to the beaches on the Earth.

Image Source: NASA

“One of the things I think is so exciting about Titan is how it can be alien and familiar at the same time,” said Elizabeth Turtle, Dragonfly’s lead investigator. At -179 degrees Celsius, “it’s a totally different material than what we’re used to interacting with on a daily basis.” The atmosphere of Titan is far thicker than the atmosphere of the Earth as the surface of the moon of the planet Saturn is covered by its atmosphere. Titan is a great place for the explorers as it has a lower gravity level which makes it explorer friendly. The scientists at NASA came up with the mission Dragonfly which is actually a drone. Dragonfly is going to travel across Titan and is going to provide the necessary information and will also help scientists to understand whether the Titan can ever have life on it or not. The design of the Dragonfly drone is going to be sleek and it is going to be three meters long and more than one meter tall. This tiny drone will gather the necessary data through which the scientists will be able to understand the nature of the moon of the planet Saturn better. The drone is going to have four propellers and the design of the drone will allow it to capture images from above the moon and of the frozen surface of Titan.

The plan is that it will first focus on the nearby areas of the moon’s equator. The amusing thing about the moon is that it has sandhills relatable enough to the sandhills on the Earth’s deserts. The time the drone will land, it is going to study more about the surface will send the images and also look for the “titanquakes” just like earthquakes. Titan also has a place known as Selk crater which was formed when a large object hit an area on Titan. According to the scientists, the ice may have turned into the water because of the heat of the collision and they are going to send Dragonfly drone to study the place and prove their point of the water existence. The collision may have created a possible environment for the existence of life. “We have this chance to explore a world that we know has all the ingredients for life, but how far did it get towards life?” said Melissa Trainer, the mission’s deputy lead investigator. Dragonfly has been loaded with a lot of equipment which includes an instrument capable of searching a class of molecules called amino acids. The reason behind looking for amino acids is that it is also found in all life present on the Earth. If there are some percent chances of the existence of life on Titan, Dragonfly will possibly find it. The take off for Dragonfly is scheduled in 2026 and then it will reach Titan by 2034. The drone is under the designing process and soon its production will start and then the testing phase will begin.


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