It’s Official: NASA Will Search Saturn’s Moon Titan for Alien Life

In 2026, NASA will launch the Dragonfly mission which will search Saturn's moon Titan for alien life. The mission will arrive at Titan in 2034.

NASA is going to Saturn’s moon Titan in order to see whether or not our solar system’s mini oasis could be home to alien life.

The space agency has recently announced its plans to launch a robotic mission to Titan in 20206.

Named Dragonfly, the mission will transport a drone to the surface of the moon.

Once there, the drone will hop from one spot on the surface of Titan to the next, measuring the atmosphere, and studying the surface in hopes of finding traces of life.

“With the Dragonfly mission, NASA will once again do what no one else can do,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe. This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we’re now ready for Dragonfly’s amazing flight.”

Titan is actually pretty similar to Earth, even though it is located far away from us, and despite it being another planet’s moon.

Advertisement

The most important similarities are that Titan, just as Earth, has an atmosphere and water.

If you were standing on its surface, you’d see thick clouds raining down liquid, filling the alien moon’s canyons, and basins, after which it evaporates only to return back to the sky repeating the process.

The slight difference is that here on earth it rains liquid water but on Titan its methane.

The temperatures on the alien moon are extreme and the Gas flows like a liquid there, eventually creating bodies of liquid methane as massive as the Great Lakes of North America.

In addition to that, Titan is a freezing world, unlike Earth.

There, temperatures are a freezing 180 degrees below zero Celsius.

And given the fact that Titan’s atmosphere is so thick, little sunlight manages to break through to the surface.

True-color image of layers of haze in Titan's atmosphere. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
True-color image of layers of haze in Titan’s atmosphere. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

But despite these extreme conditions, scientists argue that the Saturnian moon is one of the best places where alien life may already exist.

“Titan has all of the key ingredients needed for life,” revealed Lori Glaze, the director of NASA’s planetary science division.

To explore the surface of the alien moon, the Dragonfly mission is set to use 13 years’ worth of Cassini data.

The spacecraft is set to land at the equatorial “Shangri-La” dune fields, which are terrestrially similar to the linear dunes in Namibia in southern Africa and offer a diverse sampling location, revealed NASA.

Dragonfly is set to explore this region in a series of short flights, increasing eventually to a series of longer “leapfrog” flights covering around eight kilometers, stopping along the way in order to take samples from compelling areas with a diverse alien geography.

The spacecraft will finally reach the Selk impact crater, where scientists have found evidence of past liquid water, organics, in hopes of finding out whether or not there are any chances of aliens living on the moon.

The Spacecraft will fly more than 108 miles (175 kilometers) on the alien Moon. This is nearly double the distance traveled to date by all the Mars rovers combined.

Dragonfly is expected to spend almost 3 years as part of its baseline mission in which it is expected to “explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years.”

Cassini and Titan

This won’t be the first time a man-made spacecraft will go to Titan. In fact, a spacecraft from the European Space Agency got there in 2005. The Huygens spacecraft eventually captured photographs from beath Titan’s hate, revealing a stunning world waiting to be explored.
Three hours after having arrived there, it exhausted its batteries. Nonetheless, Titan was being studied by Cassini which gave the Huygens probe a ride to Titan.
Cassini studied the Saturnian system until 2017, revealing fascinating data and beaming back to Earth incredible, never-before-seen images of an alien environment.