Solidot | How to conquer Titan with a nuclear-powered rotorcraft


NASA announced last month the two robotic mission finalists, one of which was to extract the comet from comets and then return to Earth, with an eight-rotor drone Explore Saturn Moons Titan . The second concept came from the Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which was named dragonfly. Titan is considered to be the most similar planet in the solar system to earth, with a thick atmosphere, a methane cycle similar to the Earth’s water cycle, and a potential source of primitive life. It is a fascinating concept to send drones to explore the Titan at close range. The Dragonfly is essentially an enlarged version of the four-rotor drone, with the motor and rotor increased by one fold. Because of the distance and lack of sunlight, Dragonfly needs to use a power system similar to that of the Curiosity rover: using radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG) to turn the heat generated by plutonium 238 into electricity. But the energy generated by RTG is not enough to keep dragonfly in the air, it needs to recharge the battery and save enough power to complete one flight. It will be stationary for most of the time.