LPL Colloquium - Dr. Jason Barnes

Roving through the Air on Titan with Dragonfly


3:45 to 4:45 p.m., Feb. 27, 2024


Dr. Jason Barnes
Professor of Physics
Deputy Principal Investigator, Dragonfly mission
University of Idaho

Roving through the Air on Titan with Dragonfly

The Dragonfly mission will land a robotic octocopter on Saturn's moon Titan in 2034 to study its prebiotic chemistry, constrain its habitability, and search for potential chemical biosignatures.  Taking advantage of Titan's low gravity and thick air, Dragonfly will aerially traverse to over twenty distinct landing sites on dune, interdune, and icy crater terrains.  On the ground at those sites we will employ our four scientific instruments:  a mass spectrometer, a gamma-ray/neutron spectrometer, seven cameras, and a geophysical and meteorological suite. 

We seek to determine how far organic chemistry has progressed, to ground-truth the global methane meteorological cycle, to measure the modes and rates of surface geologic processes, to constrain when and where water and organics might have mixed, and to look for evidence that either water- or hydrocarbon-based life may have existed on Titan.  The engineering design is presently being finalized to begin hardware fabrication ahead of our launch period that opens on 2028 July 5.

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