Monday, September 14, 2009

DPS Future Mission Abstracts

The upcoming Division for Planetary Sciences meeting will have a number of posters on future planetary missions. Unfortunately, the server that hosts the abstracts provides temporary url's. So, I am breaking with a tradition of quoting only small sections of published (even if only on the web) material and reproducing three abstracts that I thought were interesting. I'm also listing all the titles of relevant abstracts so that you can decide if you want to take the time to find the abstracts on your own by following links at

Title LIFE, Life Investigation For Enceladus
Author Block Peter Tsou1, I. Kanic1, C. Lane1, C. Sotin1, L. Spilker1, T. Spilker1, N. Strange1
Abstract Enceladus, a small icy moon of Saturn, is one of NASA outer planet life search targets and unique in its current active jets. As with comets, this enables a low-cost flyby sample return mission like STARDUST. Samples from Enceladus will expand our in-depth knowledge of “life” and allow us to effectively plan for future missions.
Cassini found Enceladus’ jets composed of fine icy particules and hydrocarbons. Saturn’s E ring is sustained by these jets for at least the last 300 years. Clearly there is a subsurface heat source generating such jets. Several theories for the origin of life on Earth would also apply to Enceladus; thus, obtaining the samples from the plume will provide breakthrough understandings of the nature of current or past life markers.
The highly detailed analyses of Apollo and STARDUST samples revolutionized our knowledge of the Moon and comets and provided fundamental insights into remarkable processes that occur early in the formation of the Solar System. These in-depth analyses are not possible with astronomical remote sensing or in-situ instrumentations. Since the duration of these plumes is unknown, it is imperative to capture these samples by the earliest flight opportunity- the Discovery AO by the fall of 2009.
For LIFE, we have a trajectory to encounter the plume at less than 4 km/s ensuring a more gentle capture of organics than STARDUST at 6 km/s. With less than 14-year mission duration, the samples can be returned to Earth before 2029. By capitalizing on the STARDUST heritage of design-to-cost mindset, the mission cost can be controlled. For cost reduction, the upcoming Discovery AO offers unique free ASRGs and allows the use of Jupiter for gravity assist.

Title The Case for Uranus and Neptune
Author Block Mark D. Hofstadter1, C. Sotin1, S. Brooks1, L. Fletcher1, A. Friedson1, R. Moeller1, N. Murphy1, G. Orton1, T. Spilker1, D. Wenkert1
Abstract Uranus and Neptune are composed mostly of ices, such as H2O, making them fundamentally different from Jupiter or Saturn. These ice giants, and their unique satellites and rings, have an important story to tell us about the formation, evolution, and structure of planets in our Solar System and beyond. To understand that story, we must learn the basic properties of their interiors. We do not know if they have extensive solid- or liquid-water layers (making them almost overgrown icy satellites) or if the H2O-H2 phase diagram allows structures unlike any other planet in our solar system. How internal heat is transported through the interior and atmosphere is also important to learn. We wish to know the nature of atmospheric convection and circulation and how they relate to internal and solar forcing. We also wish to know the composition and temperature of the atmosphere as a function of latitude, altitude, and time. One of the great surprises of the Voyager encounters was the discovery of strongly tilted dipole magnetic fields, offset from the planet's centers. How and where is the field generated? How does its unique geometry affect the transfer of energy from the solar wind to the magnetosphere? A mission to Uranus or Neptune, supported by healthy ground-based observing and laboratory campaigns, should be a priority for the next decade. Either planet can serve as the archetypal ice giant, but cross-disciplinary priorities can be used to choose one over the other. A recent JPL study identified trajectories that could deliver significant science payloads into orbit around either planet, and found that it may be possible to do so at Uranus for under the New Frontiers cost cap and using solar-power. This research was carried out at JPL/Caltech under contract with NASA.

Title Exploration Strategy for the Dwarf Planets 2013-2022
Author Block William M. Grundy1, W. B. McKinnon2, E. Ammannito3, J. C. Castillo-Rogez4, W. J. Merline5, K. S. Noll6, A. S. Rivkin7, J. A. Stansberry8, M. V. Sykes9, A. J. Verbiscer10
1Lowell Obs., 2Washington University, 3INAF-IFSI, Italy, 4JPL/Caltech, 5Southwest Research Institute, 6Space Telescope Science Institute, 7JHU/APL, 8Steward Observatory / Univ. of Arizona, 9Planetary Science Institute, 10University of Virginia.
Abstract Dwarf planets are now recognized as a third class of planets, along with terrestrial and giant planets. In terms of physical attributes (hydrostatic shape, presence of atmospheres, satellites), there is no clear dividing line between dwarf planets on one hand and terrestrial planets and large icy satellites on the other. Five dwarf planets are presently recognized - Eris, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Ceres - and this list will only grow with time. All five are icy or at least water-rich. As of 2009, New Horizons (a New Frontiers mission) is en route to the first encounter with the Pluto-Charon system in 2015, and Dawn (a Discovery mission) is in flight and slated to orbit Ceres, also in 2015. Given the newness of this field of study, many scientific questions about the dwarf planets remain to be addressed, which impacts our understanding of the Solar System as a whole. We will summarize both the critical science questions for and scientific importance of dwarf planet exploration, and for the 2013-2022 timeframe of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, the most important mission targets and other efforts necessary to understand these worlds.

45.Missions, Past and Future Presentations:
45.01. MARCO POLO: A Near Earth Object Sample Return Mission in the ESA program Cosmic Vision 2015-2025

45.02. Solar System Science with WISE

45.03. Current Status of the International Lunar Network (ILN) Anchor Nodes Mission

45.04. Titan Mare Explorer (time): A Discovery Mission To A Titan Sea

45.05. Solar System Science with the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

45.06. In Situ Assessment of Habitability with the SAM Suite Investigation on the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory

45.07. Mission Architecture Options for Enceladus Exploration

45.08. Lunar Science Below the Surface - the MoonLITE Low Cost Penetrator Mission

45.09. New Solar System Researches expected by a New Telescope Project at Mt. Haleakala, Hawaii

45.10. Search for Indices of a Prebiotic or Biotic Organic Activity on Mars with the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer of the Sample Analysis at Mars

16.Decadal Survey White Papers Presentations:

16.01. Argo: The Next Step in the Exploration of the Outer Solar System

16.02. LIFE, Life Investigation For Enceladus

16.03. Saturn Atmospheric Science in the Next Decade

16.04. Entry Probe Missions to the Giant Planets

16.05. Cassini Solstice Mission

16.06. The Case for Uranus and Neptune

16.07. The Value of Landed Meteorological Investigations on Mars: The Next Advance for Climate Science

16.08. Space Weathering Impact on Solar System Surfaces - Community White Paper for Planetary Science Decadal Survey 2009 - 2011

16.09. A Dedicated Space Observatory For Time-domain Solar System Science

16.10. Laboratory Studies in Support of Planetary Science

16.11. Exploration of Europa

16.12. Ganymede Science Questions and Future Exploration

16.13. Uniqueness Of The IRTF For NASA Missions And Planetary Astronomy

16.14. Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM): Exploration Of The Jovian System And Its Icy Satellites

16.15. Exploration Strategy for the Dwarf Planets 2013-2022

16.16. The Case for Enceladus Science

16.17. A JPL Planetary Science Summer School Trojan and Centaur Reconnaissance Mission: Science

16.18. Science Performance of the Pupil-mapping Exoplanet Coronagraphic Observer (PECO)

16.19. Community Consensus White Paper on Goals and Priorities for the Study of Centaurs and Small Trans-Neptunian Objects in the 2010s

16.20. The Ionosphere Of Mars: A Community White Paper For The Planetary Decadal Survey

16.21. Recommended Exploration Strategy for the Outer Planets 2013-2022

16.22. The Case for Ceres: Report to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey Committee

16.23. Technologies Required to Support the Outer Planets Exploration Strategy for 2013-2022

16.24. The Future of Io Exploration, 2013-2023: A White Paper Submitted for the 2011 Planetary Decadal Survey

16.25. The Irregular Satellites

16.26. A JPL Planetary Science Summer School Trojan and Centaur Reconnaissance Mission: Mission Design

16.27. Jupiter Atmospheric Science in the Next Decade

16.28. Larger Icy Satellites

16.29. Titan’s Atmosphere and Surface Explored by Future in Situ Balloon Investigations

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