34 votes
Accepted

Why are we interested in visiting the giant planets' icy moons?

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 ...
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  • 2,331
20 votes
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Why are planetary probe RTGs tilted at a jaunty angle?

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 ...
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16 votes

Why are we interested in visiting the giant planets' icy moons?

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,...
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12 votes
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Can Dragonfly make it to one of Titan's Lakes?

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 ...
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11 votes
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What is the pop-up circular disk with spiral pattern in this NASA animation of the Dragonfly helicopter for Titan? Antenna? Kind, band, target?

Quick answer, bit short of time atm: What is the pop-up circular disk with spiral pattern in this NASA animation of the Dragonfly helicopter for Titan? Is it a high gain antenna? If so, what kind, ...
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10 votes
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How does the Dragonfly helicopter for Titan compare to Perseverance, Ingenuity and a human in terms of size, mass, weight and daily range?

tl:dr; cropped from large image below (own work). quick bash, can't find actual dimensions, details seem to vary on vehicle as evidenced by nose. 3m box for aeroshell reference human is about 5'9&...
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9 votes

Could a helicopter escape Titan?

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.
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8 votes
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How will Dragonfly (mission to Titan) keep from flipping over?

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 ...
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8 votes

How can they be so sure that Dragonfly will "freeze to death" as opposed to simply (and eventually) running out of RTG power? (238Pu decay)

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 ...
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6 votes

What is the pop-up circular disk with spiral pattern in this NASA animation of the Dragonfly helicopter for Titan? Antenna? Kind, band, target?

I am the designer of this antenna at JHUAPL. It is actually still under development, and the slot pattern shown is an artist's rendition and would not result in a working antenna. The current ...
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  • 61
5 votes
Accepted

Does the Dragonfly project (quadcopters on Titan) envision attached RTG's or would they be static and revisited for charging?

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, ...
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  • 122k
4 votes
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Could a helicopter escape Titan?

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 ...
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4 votes

Piggybacking to Enceladus

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 ...
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4 votes

How can they be so sure that Dragonfly will "freeze to death" as opposed to simply (and eventually) running out of RTG power? (238Pu decay)

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 ...
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4 votes

Where is the Selk crater on Titan with respect to Saturn?

So, after a lot of googling (I hesitate to call it 'research'), I've found the following: Wikipedia states that: Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and, like the Earth's moon, always has the same ...
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  • 2,184
3 votes

From what altitude will they cut Dragonfly helicopter loose on Titan and make it land itself, and what are the main factors determining this altitude?

The Dragonfly Entry and Descent System, Wright et al. (NTRS entry #20190028683) gives this ConOps: Entry Interface 1270 km: Spin stabilized to 2 RPM Entry heat pulse: 250 sec: Peak heat flux 250 W/...
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2 votes
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Does NASA's Titan explorer Dragonfly have a microscope? How will it observe potential microbial life?

It should be noted that studying "the potential habitability of an extraterrestrial environment" does not necessarily mean "detect and observe microbial life". However, Dragonfly ...
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2 votes

How do they know that the Dragonfly helicopter won't get quickly coated in tholin muck? Any desliming technology for camera lenses or propellors?

I'm sure that this is a concern NASA will have. Luckily it is pretty easy to test out on Earth! Put together an atmospheric chamber with the same temperature, pressure, and atmospheric composition. ...
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  • 119k
2 votes

Could a helicopter escape Titan?

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 ...
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