Author Topic: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter  (Read 1161 times)

Online shooter6947

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I wanted to start a thread to discuss a mission proposal that's in the mix for the next NASA New Frontiers mission:  Dragonfly.  Dragonfly is a Titan lander designed to study prebiotic chemistry, investigate habitability, and search for biosignatures.

We recently had http://www.space.com/36598-dragonfly-quadcopter-saturn-moon-titan-explorer.html an article come out on Space.com referencing our PI's presentation at the LPSC meeting (https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2017/pdf/1958.pdf).  I'm talking about it this week at the Astrobiology Science Conference http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/pdf/3735.pdf.

The fact that the lander is also a quadcopter enables us to explore a comparable distance in an hour on Titan than Mars Opportunity has gone in 14 years at Mars.  Flying at Titan is a really effective mode of transportation (https://what-if.xkcd.com/30/).
 Basically a Titan quadcopter lander is The Coolest Robotic Mission that you can do in the Solar System, period!

Full Disclosure:  I'm a Deputy Principal Investigator on this mission proposal.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 02:03 AM by shooter6947 »

Offline vjkane

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #1 on: 04/26/2017 11:55 PM »
Basically a Titan quadcopter lander is The Coolest Robotic Mission that you can do in the Solar System, period!

Full Disclosure:  I'm a Deputy Principal Investigator on this mission proposal.
I will agree on the coolness!  My concern on this proposal has been how you prove reliability on terrain navigation and landing safety (micro slopes, the Titan equivalent of dust bowls, ponds, etc.)  While much of this is your secret sauce, anything you can say would be welcome.  For example, are you using flight and landing spot selection algorithms developed by the military, which would indicated a high state of technology readiness?

Offline Blackstar

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Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #3 on: 05/06/2017 02:22 PM »
Awesome! Your paper mentions a neutron-activated gamma ray spectrometer. The ones we use have a Californium source with a miserable half-life. It's a long voyage so are you going to just load extra, or use another isotope?
SKYLON... The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's preferred surface-to-orbit conveyance.

Offline IanThePineapple

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #4 on: 05/06/2017 02:33 PM »
This sounds awesome, when I first read the post title I thought it meant DragonFly, as in SpaceX's Crew Dragon. That'd be awesome as well, a Red Dragon on Titan.

I hope this concept (not the SpaceX Dragon one I mentioned ;) ) gets funded!
« Last Edit: 05/06/2017 02:33 PM by IanThePineapple »
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https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42383.0

Online dror

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #5 on: 05/06/2017 03:18 PM »
Very cool and best of luck!
When I read about it at Universe Today I had a strange thought - real dragonflies have legs, not 🎿
So while youre at it, think of having six legs for stability, alignment and short distances movment.

Offline stwest

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #6 on: 05/09/2017 02:48 PM »
Awesome! Your paper mentions a neutron-activated gamma ray spectrometer. The ones we use have a Californium source with a miserable half-life. It's a long voyage so are you going to just load extra, or use another isotope?

The gamma ray spectrometer on Dragonfly is a high purity germanium detector with a pulse neutron generator. See the linked abstract from LPSC this year.

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2017/pdf/2234.pdf

Offline vjkane

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Re: Dragonfly: Proposed NASA New Frontiers Titan Quadcopter
« Reply #7 on: 05/09/2017 04:14 PM »
I've been researching drone and landing hazard detection systems.  The publicly available information (suspect the military is further advanced) is pretty encouraging.  My take is that Dragonfly could use any of several systems (and might use a combination) to select safe landing spots.  Several of the systems are for landing rovers, etc. on Mars, where there's little time for getting to the right solution.  Dragonfly presumably would, once it arrived in its general target area, have plenty of time to scan the area and select safe landing spots.  The advantages of a drone with a large battery and thick atmosphere!

I wonder if part of the plan would be arrive at an area of interest, map it in detail, and auto select a safe spot for the initial landing.  Then human operators could select specific local spots to fly to and land for follow up studies before heading for the next more distant area of interest.

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