U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Space
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-28-2019, 09:33 AM
 
5,203 posts, read 8,207,066 times
Reputation: 3188

Advertisements

A quadcopter is planned to be sent to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Earlier, the Huygens lander had landed on the surface of Titan in 2004 (wow, time flies) and was able to snap a few photos of the surface and make a few readings. The probe lived a short life because of the incredibly cold temperatures.

The planned quadcopter, called Dragonfly, will be sent to Titan in 2026, and should arrive around 2034 to explore more of the surface. The project is expected to last about 2.5 years. It will be equipped with a plutonium system to provide power and heating. The package will include instruments to examine weather conditions, and sensors to check for quakes.

Dragonfly will be able to fly hundreds of kilometers during its mission. As I understand, it will be able to fly for a few hours, then will need to land in order to recharge its batteries. Fully recharging could take several earth days, at which time samples and tests will be conducted, then back up in the air to continue on. It should be able to provide interesting views of the surface while it's in flight.

Temperatures on Titan can be incredibly cold. I'm kind of wondering how the propellers and propeller shafts will hold up under such freezing temperatures. I'm guessing the shafts would receive heat to prevent it from freezing up. I asked about that in the comments of a YouTube channel. Replies were that it shouldn't be a problem as there is no water to freeze up the propeller shafts. Water ice isn't a concern of mine. The atmosphere is mostly ethane, methane, and propane. While these chemicals have a much lower freezing point, they can freeze into ice. Average temperatures on Titan are close to that freezing point, which makes me think that colder temps likely occur for a period of time. The critical point would be during the time Dragonfly is on the ground recharging its batteries. The surface of Titan is much colder than its atmosphere.

Presumably such concerns have been already taken into account. If not, it would be a major bummer to send it all that distance to Titan only to have it fail in a short time. The design cost of Dragonfly is around $850 million. That doesn't include launch costs and on-going mission control for the project.

Any thoughts on this project?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/techn...tan/ar-AADw0WC

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly_(spacecraft)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Titan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Titan



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_TC...61679042671545


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn3-0a19sC8

Last edited by NightBazaar; 06-28-2019 at 10:59 AM.. Reason: Added another video
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-28-2019, 11:36 AM
 
4,256 posts, read 8,013,612 times
Reputation: 6040
These type of projects are space engineers' wet dream. I don't expect much more knowledge to be gained about Titan than already known. Think about all the probes that have been sent to Mars. Each one, more or less, confirmed what the previous probes uncovered (which is not a lot).

The experience gained from building and launching these probes is of great value from a technical perspective.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Seattle
2,313 posts, read 490,180 times
Reputation: 2144
We could potentially learn a lot more about the geological processes of Titan this way. The probe will cover more ground and can view the surface from altitude, so it will reveal features you wouldn't see from a static lander. Plus it can pick and choose interesting spots for close ups.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 02:06 PM
 
5,203 posts, read 8,207,066 times
Reputation: 3188
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidt1 View Post
These type of projects are space engineers' wet dream. I don't expect much more knowledge to be gained about Titan than already known. Think about all the probes that have been sent to Mars. Each one, more or less, confirmed what the previous probes uncovered (which is not a lot).

The experience gained from building and launching these probes is of great value from a technical perspective.
The Dragonfly craft is expected to be able to reach an altitude of about 4 km (about 2.5 miles), and should ultimately travel a distance of around 161 km (about 100 miles). I'm guessing that's the total travel distance during its 2.5 year mission. Interestingly, Titan is tidally locked with Saturn and orbits Saturn in 15 days 22 hours (Earth time).

I agree that the experience of each probe and launch adds to improving future developments and increases our knowledge about the Solar System and a better understanding about the Earth. It'll be interesting to see how this mission will pan out. What I wonder about is why not send a quadcopter like Dragonfly to Mars? It's relatively closer, and most likely be the destination for prolonged human exploration.

Even though knowledge gained seems like a small amount, it's pretty hard to make giant leaps when we're still taking baby steps. Gotta learn to crawl and walk before developing the ability to run, especially considering the costs. In terms of Mars, we've gone from the Pathfinder rover to Curiosity. What we need is to be able to travel greater distances in the shortest amount of time. We'll eventually get to that point.

Curiosity has been able to get a little better look at the geology of Mars, although the area is a small fraction of the entire planet. I don't know, but in my opinion, we've come to a conclusion of the Curiosity mission to determine of Mars had water in its past and if it was long enough for life to develop there, even if it's just microbial life. The 2020 mission is expected to search for signs of any kind of life whether fossilized or still existing. That seems like a reasonable mission to follow on the heels of Curiosity. It should also add to developing better future missions. As interesting as Titan is, I think keeping the focus on Mars would be better.

Although images from the Huygens lander gave us some better views, the views from the ground were not the clearest in terms of quality. A lot of the recent animations and illustrations of Dragonfly flying over the surface of Titan look more like the sandy, dusty surface of Mars and showing a lot more light. In the image showing rocks close by, the soil looks wet, and it has been mentioned that liquid streams were present or near. In any case, I think Dragonfly should be able to capture some images of Titan's lakes, perhaps rivers flowing into the lakes.

As I understand it, the mission to Titan is mostly to look at its chemistry, in particular, hydrocarbons to determine if the chemistry on Titan as a look at how Earth might've been, chemically, in its early history which ultimately lead to the formation of life. That said, I'm also not expecting to see anything drastically different, apart from (hopefully) better aerial and surface views of Titan. Is it worth nearly a billion dollars as of right now? As it is, the money has already been committed, and all that's left for Dragonfly is to be loaded on its launch rocket to blast off on its journey to Titan. I sure hope Dragonfly works as expected.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Seattle
2,313 posts, read 490,180 times
Reputation: 2144
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
I agree that the experience of each probe and launch adds to improving future developments and increases our knowledge about the Solar System and a better understanding about the Earth. It'll be interesting to see how this mission will pan out. What I wonder about is why not send a quadcopter like Dragonfly to Mars? It's relatively closer, and most likely be the destination for prolonged human exploration.
The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner, so the lift would be significantly reduced. They do plan to include a demonstrator helicopter on the 2020 rover mission, but it'll be a small box with large blades.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/m...-rover-mission
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Ohio
20,693 posts, read 14,659,985 times
Reputation: 16966
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
Any thoughts on this project?
It's a huge waste of tax-payer money that will result in a nothing-burger.

They need to be looking at Io or Ganymede, not Titan.

They need to be looking at how to get the hell off Earth and survive, and Titan will never in any way assist in that endeavor.

Ganymede has a magnetic field, which means it likely has a molten core, and the magnetic field will shield out solar radiation.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 05:26 PM
 
5,203 posts, read 8,207,066 times
Reputation: 3188
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner, so the lift would be significantly reduced. They do plan to include a demonstrator helicopter on the 2020 rover mission, but it'll be a small box with large blades.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/m...-rover-mission
I remember some time ago, it had been proposed after Curiosity had landed, but I never heard much about it after. Didn't know it was set to go with the 2020 rover. Thanks. You're right that the blades would be a lot longer to compensate for the thin atmosphere. The idea, as I recall, was to help search for a "path" for the rover to find the least amount of obstacles for it to travel or to identify certain features for the rover to examine. Kind of like extra eyes for the rover.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 07:13 PM
 
5,203 posts, read 8,207,066 times
Reputation: 3188
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
It's a huge waste of tax-payer money that will result in a nothing-burger.

They need to be looking at Io or Ganymede, not Titan.

They need to be looking at how to get the hell off Earth and survive, and Titan will never in any way assist in that endeavor.

Ganymede has a magnetic field, which means it likely has a molten core, and the magnetic field will shield out solar radiation.
Are you suggesting Io or Ganymede as locations as an alternative for human habitation? There isn't a planet or moon in the solar system that's immune from asteroid or comet strikes. Just look at the craters on moons around the solar system. Io is too volcanic and it's atmosphere is too thin and patchy, so that can be scratched off the list. Ganymede would be a poor choice because Jupiter's gravity tends to sweep obstacles around, or pull them in if they get too close. Jupiter has a powerful magnetic field and emits it's own radiation too. In addition, high energy cosmic particles in space is another factor to contend with. If a large solar flare were to erupt from the Sun, the orbit of the Earth is pretty large with better odds of being missed, although sometimes the Earth gets hit. That could be a major hassle today because of the dependency on electronics and communications both on the Earth and in orbit.

In the near future, we'll probably send people to Mars, but I doubt within this century, and possibly many more, it'll become a home for a thriving civilization. It's more likely to become more of a scientific outpost with a small population. In the more distant future, we might find ways to thrive and survive in interstellar space. I would suspect any other solar system probably has to contend with their shares of celestial hazards as well. Overall, we've got it pretty good on Earth, but we need to manage the planet better.

If we did find a way to get off the Earth and survive, most likely, only a select few would be chosen. The rest of the 7+ billion (and growing) Earthlings would be out of luck.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2019, 07:37 PM
 
2,959 posts, read 1,122,120 times
Reputation: 1982
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
It's a huge waste of tax-payer money that will result in a nothing-burger.

They need to be looking at Io or Ganymede, not Titan.

They need to be looking at how to get the hell off Earth and survive, and Titan will never in any way assist in that endeavor.

Ganymede has a magnetic field, which means it likely has a molten core, and the magnetic field will shield out solar radiation.
That doesn't really make sense.

Io has the largest level of volcanic activity in the Solar System. Titan is the only moon with a substantial atmosphere and has hydrocarbon lakes on its surface.

I would venture that Europa is another good fit.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-29-2019, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Maryland
2,172 posts, read 731,481 times
Reputation: 4849
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
It's a huge waste of tax-payer money that will result in a nothing-burger.

They need to be looking at Io or Ganymede, not Titan.

They need to be looking at how to get the hell off Earth and survive, and Titan will never in any way assist in that endeavor.

Ganymede has a magnetic field, which means it likely has a molten core, and the magnetic field will shield out solar radiation.
I haven’t been following this very closely but that raises an interesting question. Why did they choose Titan? I do agree the two you mentioned seemed much more relevant to human interests, from the little I know. Europa sounds good as well.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Space
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top