Nasa has announced that its Dragonfly mission will explore, sample and examine sites around Titan, Saturn’s largest moon Titan.

A part of the space agency’s New Frontiers programme, Dragonfly will be launched in 2026 and is expected to arrive in 2034.

The rotorcraft lander will explore dozens of locations on Titan to identify prebiotic chemical processes common on both the moon and Earth.

According to Nasa, Dragonfly is the first multi-rotor vehicle to be launched for science on another planet.

With eight rotors, Dragonfly would fly similar to a large drone while taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere, which is four times denser than that of the Earth.

The drone will measure the compositions of Titan’s organic surface materials that characterise the moon’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. It will explore sand dunes on Titan to identify if they are made of the same complex organic material discovered in the atmosphere.

Dragonfly will also investigate the atmospheric and surface properties of the moon and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs.

In addition, the drone’s instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or existing life.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionise 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.”

Nasa associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said: “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.”

Nasa’s Dragonfly will first land on the equatorial Shangri-La dune fields, which are similar to the linear dunes in Namibia in southern Africa.

The rotorcraft lander will finally reach the Selk impact crater, where there is previous evidence of liquid water, organics and energy.

The drone lander is capable of flying more than 100 miles (160km) through Titan’s thick atmosphere.

Nasa planetary science director Lori Glaze said: “The New Frontiers programme has transformed our understanding of the solar system, uncovering the inner structure and composition of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, discovering the icy secrets of Pluto’s landscape, revealing mysterious objects in the Kuiper belt, and exploring a near-Earth asteroid for the building blocks of life.”