NASA is sending a nuclear-powered drone to titan, saturn’s largest moon, to explore multiple locations in hopes of discovering signs of microbial life. dragonfly, which has eight rotors and flies just like a large drone, marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet.

NASA will launch eight-rotor dragonfly drone to explore titan

images courtesy of NASA



the drone will launch in 2026, taking eight years to reach titan with an expected arrival in 2034. it will first 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. it will then making short flights of up to 5 miles around the moon, stopping along the way to take samples from compelling areas with diverse geography.


dragonfly will conclude its mission at the selk impact crater, where there is evidence of past liquid water, organics – the complex molecules that contain carbon, combined with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen – and energy, which together make up the recipe for life. in total, the drone will have covered 108 miles, nearly double the distance traveled by all mars rovers combined.

NASA will launch eight-rotor dragonfly drone to explore titan



‘titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and dragonfly is like no other mission,’ said thomas zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science at the agency’s headquarters in washington. ‘it’s remarkable to think of this rotorcraft flying miles and miles across the organic sand dunes of saturn’s largest moon, exploring the processes that shape this extraordinary environment. dragonfly will visit a world filled with a wide variety of organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life and could teach us about the origin of life itself.’

NASA will launch eight-rotor dragonfly drone to explore titan



‘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.’


dragonfly is part of the agency’s new frontiers program, which includes the new horizons mission to pluto and the kuiper belt, juno to jupiter, and osiris-rex to the asteroid bennu.


project info


company: NASA

drone: dragonfly

mission: titan