After Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, Dragonfly will be the next NASA drone helicopter to fly above the surface of another world when it arrives on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, after launching from Earth in 2027.
Dragonfly will be much larger than tiny Ingenuity– about the size of a small car– although it is still undergoing design. It will conduct a mission lasting over two years to investigate samples on the surface of Titan’s organic oceanic world.
The dual quadcopter will be able to travel tens of miles in a single flight, powered by a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), like one used on the Perseverance rover on Mars, to provide 60 watts of power to charge onboard batteries. Ingenuity has relied on solar power, but the atmosphere of Titan is too dense to provide enough sunlight and Titan is much farther from the Sun than Mars.
Scientists hope to answer fundamental questions such as what makes a planet or moon habitable? Or what chemical…