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Titan Saturn System Mission

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1 Author(s)
Reh, K.R. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA

Titan is a high priority for exploration, as recommended by NASA's 2006 Solar System Exploration (SSE) Roadmap, NASA's 2003 National Research Council (NRC) Decadal Survey and ESA's Cosmic Vision Program Themes. Recent revolutionary Cassini-Huygens discoveries have dramatically escalated interest in Titan as the next scientific target in the outer Solar System. Results of this study as documented in the TSSM Final Report and Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) NASA/ESA Joint Summary Report demonstrates that an exciting Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) that explores two worlds of intense astrobiological interest can be initiated now as a single NASA/ESA collaboration. Following 50 years of space exploration, the Cassini-Huygens mission has revealed the Earth-like world of Saturn's moon Titan and showed the potential habitability of another moon, Enceladus. As anticipated by the 2003 Decadal Survey, recent Cassini-Huygens discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of the Titan system and its potential for harboring the "ingredients" necessary for life. These discoveries reveal that Titan is very rich in organics, possibly contains a vast subsurface ocean, and has energy sources to drive chemical evolution. The complex interaction between the atmosphere and surface produces lakes, dunes, and seasonal changes that are features that Titan shares with Earth. Cassini's discovery of active geysers on Enceladus revealed a second icy moon in the Saturn system that is synergistic with Titan in understanding planetary evolution and in adding another potential abode in the Saturn system for life as we know it. These discoveries have dramatically escalated the interest in Titan as the next scientific target for an outer planet mission. Although the scope of science possible at Titan covers the entire range of planetary science disciplines, the TSSM team has developed a mission that focuses NASA and ESA resources on the highest priority science questions. Results of th- is study confirm that a flagship-class mission to Titan (including the Saturn system and Enceladus) can be done at acceptable risk within the specified budgetary constraints and can proceed now.

Published in:

Aerospace conference, 2009 IEEE

Date of Conference:

7-14 March 2009

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