Monday, October 5, 2009

Enceladus Mission Concept Tidbits

Minutes of the Decadal Survey panel meetings continue to be posted. See the previous post for a long summary of the first set of meetings.

In the last couple of days, two more minutes were posted. The outer planet Satellites Panel held a second meeting to consider missions to examine in more detail. The minutes include a couple of interesting tidbits on possible Enceladus missions. "New astrodynamics techniques open up new possibilities for multiple Enceladus flybys at high inclination, with additional flybys of other Saturnian satellites. It is also possible with current trajectory techniques to orbit two or more moons in one mission, for example Titan and Enceladus." Other astrodynamics studies may enable a StarDust like sample return from Enceladus: Low cost flyby sample return mission for Enceladus follows Stardust model, with modifications made for capture of volatiles. These mission concepts, collectively called LIFE, must address the following challenges: 1) sample capture velocity of 15-20 km/s, which presents problems for sample integrity; 2) long mission durations (~15 yr); 3) high cost. Some potential resolutions were discussed, including: 1) a new trajectory was found by JPL group, which gives ~3 km/s sampling speed; 2) mission duration can be reduced to 13.5 years, with multiple sampling flybys." Source: Satellites Panel Meeting 2

In addition, the Primitive Bodies Panel minutes provides good summaries of the white papers submitted to that panel. Most of that information has been summarized in a series of blog entries over the last two weeks. The writer of the minutes did not include notes on the discussions, so I did not spot any new information. However, this is a good summary if you are interested.

All of the notes of the panel meetings can be found at the Decadal Survey website. There are not unique URLs for the notes, but you can find them by scrolling down the page to 'Past Meetings.' The Decadal Survey website is:

1 comment:

  1. Notion that crossed my mind when considering the slower sampling speed: Would it be feasible to have a collection device which spins at high speed, like a drill, with two-sided fan blades. One side of the fan would receive particle impacts with a velocity that subtracts the speed of the drill from the speed of the plume-spacecraft velocity. That might allow for a small surface where the kinetic energy of impact was significantly less than would otherwise be possible, and that might allow some chemical species to survive intact that otherwise wouldn't.