Life on Titan? New NASA Mission Will Find Out

Titan, a moon across the planet Saturn, has the proper materials for existence, NASA research has shown. The US space business enterprise’s newly introduced Dragonfly project will explore the icy area object to study if it ever did hold existence.

Titan is just like a very early Earth, and NASA says it may offer clues to how life can also have commenced on our planet.

In a few methods, Titan looks like Earth. There are lakes and seas across the northern 1/2, and every so often, rain hits the sandy surface. But that is where the similarities end.


Titan is so bloodless that water is rock-difficult ice, and oily methane falls from the sky and into the seas. The beaches are exceptional, too. Titan’s sand is made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, contrasting to any seaside on Earth.

NASA's Ambitious Mission

“One of the matters I think is so thrilling about Titan is how it may be alien and acquainted on the equal time,” stated Elizabeth Turtle, Dragonfly’s lead investigator. At -179 levels Celsius, “it’s extraordinary cloth than what we’re used to interacting with daily.” For instance, there’s water-ice bedrock—the fabric below the ground’s surface and large regions of liquid methane.

Titan’s floor is hidden beneath its surroundings, four instances as dense as Earth’s. But its decreased gravity makes Titan an awesome place for a flying explorer.

Dragonfly Drone

Drones are small aircraft that fly without a pilot. With the development in drone technology, the Dragonfly team recognized that they could make what turned into once a dream—flying on Titan—a fact.

Dragonflies could be three meters long and more than a meter tall. It will fly with the help of two sets of 4 propellers. The design will permit Dragonfly to take photos from above the moon and land on Titan’s frozen surface for a better appearance.

At first, it will be an area near the moon’s equator or middle. It is blanketed in large sand hills, much like what’s found in Earth’s deserts. From there, Dragonfly will flow out and discover the moon by taking massive jumps to look at what lies beforehand.

When it lands, it will look at samples of the floor, take pics, and search for “titanquakes”— like earthquakes.

Dragonfly will travel 8 kilometers according to bounce and make its manner to Selk crater, more than a hundred kilometers away. The hole becomes fashioned while a massive item hits the location. Scientists think the hit’s warmth would have grown to become the ice to water in Titan’s crust. That ought to have created surroundings that could have all the essential elements for existence.

Search for Life

The Dragonfly team hopes to examine whether combining organic cloth with liquid water and power in the form of heat may have caused complex molecules to develop – or maybe life itself.

“We have this threat to discover a global that we know has all the ingredients for existence, but how far did it get closer to existence?” stated Melissa Trainer, the project’s deputy lead investigator.

If life is or has been on Titan, Dragonfly needs to be capable of finding it. Its contraptions may be looking for a class of molecules referred to as amino acids, which can be found in all existence on Earth.

Dragonfly is predicted to release in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034. The technology and engineering teams are designing and constructing the spacecraft.

The experience can be a long manner off, but the crew believes the mission may be worth the wait.

I’m Anne Ball.

Kerry Hensley wrote this tale for VOA News. Anne Ball tailored it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver turned into the editor.

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