34

The icy moons are of interest for exploration as part of the overall "follow the water" strategy of exploration that NASA (and others) have been exploring for some time. The "where else can water be found" is a major question in e.g. the US Planetary Science Decadal Survey (which is a community-driven consensus document which outlines the questions of ...


18

The Dragonfly cruise stage looks rather similar to Curiosity's cruise stage, so I've looked at Curiosity. Curiosity's backshell contains a hatch. This was used to install the RTG at the last possible moment (a few days before launch, long after the rover had been packaged in its backshell plus heat shield. Here is Curiosity's backshell being prepared for ...


16

The motivation is the growing understanding, from the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini probes, that these icy moons (I'd throw in Enceladus) are geologically active with sub-surface oceans of liquid water, along with the realization (from studying the Earth's ocean vents and deep biosphere) that life can be sustained from the energy of geologic processes, not ...


11

Can Dragonfly make it to one of Titan's Lakes? tl;dr: Yes! It could be doable in 2-3 years. According to your linked document Dragonfly will use a Multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator or MMRTG: The MMRTG design incorporates PbTe/TAGS thermoelectric couples (from Teledyne Energy Systems), where the TAGS material is a material incorporating ...


9

Good luck getting a helicopter hypersonic. You need more than 2,600 m/s to escape Titan. The speed of sound on Titan is 194 m/s.


8

They plan to use some form of "site evaluation" to prevent tipping over: However, technology developments in the last two decades, notably the revolution in availability of multi- rotor drones a made possible by modern compact sensors and autopilots as well as the development of sensing and control capabilities for autonomous landing and site ...


7

The RTG makes heat, which is used in two ways in missions to cold places: Through thermocouples to generate electricity, and through waste heat. Some of the waste heat is cycled through coolant loops or heat pipes to keep things warm; the excess is radiated. The electricity can also be used to run heaters. As the RTG ages and the plutonium within it ...


5

The RTG will be part of the helicopter. The helicopter will weigh 420 kg (early estimate). Dragonfly will be a helicopter-only mission, there's no ground station. This is the landing configuration, you can see the helicopter is the only object inside the aeroshell, i.e. the only object that will land.


4

The key to navigation when in Saturn's moon system is Titan. Cassini flew by a vast numbers of targets while barely spending any fuel. This was accomplished by a gravity assist scheme where the key component is successive flybys of Titan for every orbit. Titan is relatively massive, so it can alter your probe's trajectory dramatically. Exactly how it's ...


3

It's a good question, but no it's not possible. The denser atmosphere works for you and against you, for you in that you can achieve more lift with less blade or a slower blade rotation, against you because it also increases drag which will slow the craft and it's blades. But, regardless of density this won't work because of the basic mechanics of ...


3

The problem here is that you are comparing a nuclear "battery" with a conventional battery. A conventional battery you draw power from it at whatever rate you want (up to some limit based on the battery) until it's gone, then it produces nothing. However, nuclear "batteries" are a very different beast. They're actually generators, not ...


2

There is a maximum height for the helicopter. If the lift force of the rotor is equal to the weight of the helicopter it could not get higher. If you go up with maximum speed you only get a little jump above the maximum height but very soon the helicopter will be down at maximum height again. The escape velocity of Titan is 2.639 km/s. A helicopter with ...


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