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Science Goals and Objectives for the Dragonfly Titan Rotorcraft Relocatable Lander

Jason W. Barnes 1, * Elizabeth P. Turtle 2 Melissa G. Trainer 3 Ralph D. Lorenz 2 Shannon M. Mackenzie 2 William B. Brinckerhoff 3 Morgan L. Cable 4 Carolyn M. Ernst 2 Caroline Freissinet 5 Kevin P. Hand 4 Alexander G. Hayes 6 Sarah M. Hörst 7 Jeffrey R. Johnson 2 Erich Karkoschka 8 David J. Lawrence 2 Alice Le Gall 5 Juan M. Lora 9 Christopher P. Mckay 10 Richard S. Miller 2 Scott L. Murchie 2 Catherine D. Neish 11, 12 Claire E. Newman 13 Jorge Núñez 2 Mark P. Panning 4 Ann M. Parsons 3 Patrick N. Peplowski 2 Lynnae C. Quick 3 Jani Radebaugh 14 Scot C. R. Rafkin 15 Hiroaki Shiraishi 16 Jason M. Soderblom 17 Kristin S. Sotzen 2 Angela M. Stickle 2 Ellen R. Stofan 18 Cyril Szopa 5 Tetsuya Tokano 19 Thomas Wagner 20 Colin Wilson 21 R. Aileen Yingst 11 Kris Zacny 22 Simon C. Stähler 23 
Abstract : NASA's Dragonfly mission will send a rotorcraft lander to the surface of Titan in the mid-2030s. Dragonflyʼs science themes include investigation of Titan's prebiotic chemistry, habitability, and potential chemical biosignatures from both water-based "life as we know it" (as might occur in the interior mantle ocean, potential cryovolcanic flows, and/or impact melt deposits) and potential "life, but not as we know it" that might use liquid hydrocarbons as a solvent (within Titan's lakes, seas, and/or aquifers). Consideration of both of these solvents simultaneously led to our initial landing site in Titan's equatorial dunes and interdunes to sample organic sediments and water ice, respectively. Ultimately, Dragonflyʼs traverse target is the 80 km diameter Selk Crater, at 7°N, where we seek previously liquid water that has mixed with surface organics. Our science goals include determining how far prebiotic chemistry has progressed on Titan and what molecules and elements might be available for such chemistry. We will also determine the role of Titan's tropical deserts in the global methane cycle. We will investigate the processes and processing rates that modify Titan's surface geology and constrain how and where organics and liquid water can mix on and within Titan. Importantly, we will search for chemical biosignatures indicative of past or extant biological processes. As such, Dragonfly, along with Perseverance, is the first NASA mission to explicitly incorporate the search for signs of life into its mission goals since the Viking landers in 1976.
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Submitted on : Sunday, July 25, 2021 - 10:29:47 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:51:08 AM
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Jason W. Barnes, Elizabeth P. Turtle, Melissa G. Trainer, Ralph D. Lorenz, Shannon M. Mackenzie, et al.. Science Goals and Objectives for the Dragonfly Titan Rotorcraft Relocatable Lander. The Planetary Science Journal, IOP Science, 2021, 2 (August), 130 (18pp). ⟨10.3847/psj/abfdcf⟩. ⟨insu-03298915⟩



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