NASA-Built Autonomous Drone Set to Rove Titan

A mission to send a nuclear-powered, autonomously-operating drone to one of Saturn’s moons will commence in 2026—and the craft, nicknamed Dragonfly, will arrive in Titan’s atmosphere in 2034. Then, the sedan-sized probe will investigate the lower-gravity surface’s dunes, mountains, rivers, and lakes—and report back instantly (though a transmission takes almost two hours from Titan to Earth). Another one of Dragonfly’s tasks will be to create a map of the moon’s surface. “We don’t actually have a map. There’s no GPS; there’s no magnetic field even to orient yourself,” Doug Adams, a spacecraft systems engineer, tells NPR. To get around, “the drone will navigate by continuously photographing the landscape, creating its own ‘map’ as it goes.” Read more there.