Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dragonfly or Stardust mission? (Basically – Titan or go to a comet) NASA considers…

While it certainly makes sense that as we are learning over yonder in space at the same time as maybe we send another off the opposite direction to study two totally different things. Maybe it takes six years for a spacecraft to make the trip to Titan but in the meantime one can send a separate spacecraft to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to collect surface samples… But honestly, Titan certainly seems more important than going to a comet. So how does NASA decide between two awesome missions?

Dragonfly, that’s the name of the Titan concept, involves sending a quadcopter-like spacecraft /flying robot to the alien Titan moon. It would be outfitted with instruments capable of identifying large organic molecules, the quadcopter, thanks to its flying abilities, would be able to visit multiple locations hundreds of miles apart to collect samples and study the landscape on Titan. A frigid moon of Saturn, Titan features a thick atmosphere and lakes and rivers of liquid methane, and what scientists believe could be a watery ocean beneath its frozen crust. Since we now that Titan has the ingredients for life, with Dragonfly, we will be able to evaluate how far prebiotic chemistry has progressed.

On the other hand, there is the Stardust mission. Comets are believed to be among the most scientifically important objects in the solar system, but they’re also happen to be among the most poorly understood however, we have also sampled from the ‘coma’ of a comet in previous missions. Still, this would be for materials from its icy surface so different in nature.

There is importance in both missions, but one might want to consider what ‘our’ needs are. DO we need to step up the idea of a colony or do we absolutely need to know the answer to where we came from? -As well as the rest of the universe.

So, which has been determined to be the one? Neither, really, both missions have entered what is called a “concept study phase” where the scientists involved can further develop their proposals. The final selection will be made sometime in July of 2019 - whichever spacecraft is chosen, the launch is expected sometime in 2025.

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