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Artist's illustration of Dragonfly on Titan. Photo: NASA/JHU-APL

NASA's newly selected Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s largest moon Titan will mark a new way of exploring the solar system for the space agency.

The big picture: Dragonfly's unique design will allow scientists to get a full picture of Titan's various environments over the course of its mission. Instead of staying in one place like a lander or driving along the surface like a rover, Dragonfly will be able to fly through Titan's thick atmosphere, land and then take off again.

  • This kind of mission will allow scientists to piece together whether the moon could be a friendly place for life today or in the past.

Details: Once it arrives at the moon in 2034 after launch in 2026, Dragonfly will descend through the world's atmosphere underneath a parachute before flying free using its 4 rotors and heading to its first destination at Titan's equator.

  • The spacecraft will then land, study the area — which has a number of interesting dunes — and then eventually take off again, taking flights of up to 5 miles, according to NASA.
  • Over the course of its 2.7-year mission, Dragonfly is expected to fly up to 108 miles.
  • The spacecraft will be able to collect and analyze samples from Titan's surface and beam home photographs to Earth while gathering data about the world’s atmosphere during flights.
  • Eventually, mission controllers want the spacecraft to fly to the Selk impact crater where researchers think there could be evidence of all the components needed for life.

Yes, but: There are always risks when trying something new out in the solar system. NASA is planning to draw from technologies that are currently in use on Earth and Mars to make sure Dragonfly has its best chance at a successful mission.

Go deeper: NASA will send a drone to Saturn's largest moon

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.