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The "Billion Dollar Box" Study of Science Missions to Saturnian Satellites

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5 Author(s)
Spilker, T.R. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., Caltech, Pasadena, CA ; Reh, K.R. ; Elliott, J.O. ; Lorenz, R.
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Cassini/Huygens (C/H) mission investigations verify Saturnian satellites Titan and Enceladus as objects of intense interest to planetary scientists and astrobiologists. Recently NASA commissioned a study of potential relatively low-cost missions to these icy satellites, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with science and engineering teams from prominent universities, FFRDCs, and NASA centers. NASA was interested in determining whether there are scientifically viable missions to Titan or Enceladus within the constraints of a (possibly slightly expanded) New Frontiers mission. The C/H mission's extremely capable instrumentation and thorough investigation of the Saturn system make that a difficult, though not obviously impossible, task. Any such mission must exceed C/H capabilities (in, for instance, imaging coverage or resolution, or range of constituents identifiable) to be scientifically worthwhile. Beginning in October 2006 these teams assessed science objectives for the two destinations and surveyed architectural options for implementing worthwhile subsets of the global lists of science objectives, attempting to find mission concepts both scientifically justifiable and within New Frontiers constraints. These studies were completed in early 2007 and the somewhat surprising results, that there appear to be no such missions, reported to NASA. This presentation gives the results of the studies and examines interesting individual missions.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2008 IEEE

Date of Conference:

1-8 March 2008