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NASA sends drones to look for signs of life around Titan – NRK Viten – News in science and research


Titanium is an interesting destination for those looking for living organisms. The moon that travels the planet Saturn has frozen lakes and an ocean of methane and liquid age.

Now NASA is planning a called drone dragonfly, will land at Titan in 2034.

– This will be a very exciting project. It is in this mysterious moon that there is the greatest chance of finding extraterrestrial life, says Pål Brekke, senior researcher of the Norwegian Space Center.

Several researchers believe that conditions make it possible for Titan to emerge. Because there is water and carbon. They are basic elements necessary for life, at least for life in the forms we know.

Pål Brekke is the head of the Norwegian Space Center

Pål Brekke is a senior researcher at the Norwegian Space Center and has previously worked for ESA and NASA.

Photo: Norwegian Space Center

– We believe that there is a great sea of ​​water under the frozen surface and that there are ways of life here. But it is not true that we recognize it, as vital processes are likely to slow down when it is so cold, says Brekke.

Because it never gets warmer than less than 180 degrees Celsius to Titan, which is 1.4 billion kilometers from Earth.

Sea and lake

Titan was discovered by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1655. But it was not until 2005 that we became acquainted with the strange elliptical moon. Like the land of the spacecraft of NASA, Huygens, on the surface of Titan. He only survived for two hours, but it was enough to send hundreds of photographs to earth.

Over the next decades, we gained more knowledge about Titan thanks to the unmanned spacecraft Cassini, who sailed for Saturn. Each time Titan passed, he gave us important information.

Titan Moon

LA LUNA TITAN: Using a special filter, the camera on board the NASA spacecraft Cassini could look through the atmosphere of the moon of Saturn, Titan.

Photo: NASA

It is necessary to examine the basic elements of life

We know that Titan has a large surface of the sea in a state of freezing. The dragonfly will provide detailed observations and trace which chemicals exist.

– You can determine if there are signs of life or chemical processes that can boost life, says Brekke.

The knowledge that is obtained with Titan's dron will also be able to say something about how life in our own planet began, he believes.

He has to fly

Dragonfly Dragon will explore Titan is one quadcopter, a multi-rotor helicopter that is raised and operated by four rotors.

According to Pål Brekke, this is an innovative project.

– Mart's robots move very slowly and have a limited scope. The dragonfly will be much more effective.

– Dragonfly is designed to capture the results of these trials and study them, says the leader of the Dragonfly team, Elizabeth Turtle, in the New Scientist magazine.

According to the magazine, scientists have now received just over 850 million dollars to build the spacecraft going to Titan.

This project is part of the New Frontiers program of NASA, where the objective is to examine several parts of our solar system.

Here you can see an animation of the landing on Titan

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