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Future Tech: Titan quadcopter

8 Feb 2019, 12:14 UTC
Future Tech: Titan quadcopter
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There isn’t enough solar energy available on Titan to power such an energy-intensive mission as Dragonfly, so it will use a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator powered by plutonium. Image credit: Adrian Mann
One of NASA’s most impressive current projects is the Curiosity Mars rover. The 899-kilogram (1981-pound) nuclear-powered rover is a travelling laboratory, which was landed on the Red Planet’s surface by a rocket-powered sky crane in 2012. However, it is no simple matter to navigate a $2.5 billion rover on another world. As a result, Curiosity moves very cautiously, crawling along at up to 200 metres (656 feet) per day, travelling 17.81 kilometres (11.06 miles) as of sol 1891, which equates to around five Earth years. This inevitably limits the reach of such missions, and will be even more challenging on our next landing targets – the large moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The most interesting of these moons, Saturn’s Titan, offers a unique opportunity in the Solar System.
Titan is among one of the most Earth-like worlds in our Solar System; it may be cold, but like Earth, and unlike any other moon, it has a thick atmosphere and a rocky surface. In principle, you’d only need an ...

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