The science case for an orbital mission to Uranus:exploring the origins and evolution of ice giant planets

Arridge, C. S. and Achilleos, N. and Agarwal, J. and Agnor, C. B. and Ambrosi, R. and Andre, N. and Badman, S. V. and Baines, K. and Banfield, D. and Barthelemy, M. and Bisi, M. M. and Blum, J. and Bocanegra-Bahamon, T. and Bonfond, B. . and Bracken, C. and Brandt, P. and Briand, C. and Briois, C. and Brooks, S. and Castillo-Rogez, J. and Cavalie, T. and Christophe, B. and Coates, A. J. and Collinson, G. and Cooper, J. F. and Costa-Sitja, M. and Courtin, R. and Daglis, I. A. and De Pater, I. and Desai, M. and Dirkx, D. and Dougherty, M. K. and Ebert, R. W. and Filacchione, G. and Fletcher, L. N. and Fortney, J. and Gerth, I. and Grassi, D. and Grodent, D. and Grun, E. and Gustin, J. and Hedman, M. and Helled, R. and Henri, P. and Hess, S. and Hillier, J. K. and Hofstadter, M. H. and Holme, R. and Horanyi, M. and Hospodarsky, G. and Hsu, S. and Irwin, P. and Jackman, C. M. and Karatekin, O. and Kempf, S. and Khalisi, E. and Konstantinidis, K. and Kruger, H. and Kurth, W. S. and Labrianidis, C. and Lainey, V. and Lamy, L. L. and Laneuville, M. and Lucchesi, D. and Luntzer, A. and MacArthur, J. and Maier, A. and Masters, A. and McKenna-Lawlor, S. and Melin, H. and Milillo, A. and Moragas-Klostermeyer, G. and Morschhauser, A. and Moses, J. I. and Mousis, O. and Nettelmann, N. and Neubauer, F. M. and Nordheim, T. and Noyelles, B. and Orton, G. S. and Owens, M. and Peron, R. and Plainaki, C. and Postberg, F. and Rambaux, N. and Retherford, K. and Reynaud, S. and Roussos, E. and Russell, C. T. and Rymer, Am. and Sallantin, R. and Sanchez-Lavega, A. and Santolik, O. and Saur, J. and Sayanagi, Km. and Schenk, P. and Schubert, J. and Sergis, N. and Sittler, E. C. and Smith, A. and Spahn, F. and Srama, R. and Stallard, T. and Sterken, V. and Sternovsky, Z. and Tiscareno, M. and Tobie, G. and Tosi, F. and Trieloff, M. and Turrini, D. and Turtle, E. P. and Vinatier, S. and Wilson, R. and Zarkat, P. (2014) The science case for an orbital mission to Uranus:exploring the origins and evolution of ice giant planets. Planetary and Space Science, 104 (Part A). pp. 122-140. ISSN 0032-0633

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Giant planets helped to shape the conditions we see in the Solar System today and they account for more than 99% of the mass of the Sun's planetary system. They can be subdivided into the Ice Giants (Uranus and Neptune) and the Gas Giants (Jupiter and Saturn), which differ from each other in a number of fundamental ways. Uranus, in particular is the most challenging to our understanding of planetary formation and evolution, with its large obliquity, low self-luminosity, highly asymmetrical internal field, and puzzling internal structure. Uranus also has a rich planetary system consisting of a system of inner natural satellites and complex ring system, five major natural icy satellites, a system of irregular moons with varied dynamical histories, and a highly asymmetrical magnetosphere. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have explored Uranus, with a flyby in 1986, and no mission is currently planned to this enigmatic system. However, a mission to the uranian system would open a new window on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and would provide crucial information on a wide variety of physicochemical processes in our Solar System. These have clear implications for understanding exoplanetary systems. In this paper we describe the science case for an orbital mission to Uranus with an atmospheric entry probe to sample the composition and atmospheric physics in Uranus' atmosphere. The characteristics of such an orbiter and a strawman scientific payload are described and we discuss the technical challenges for such a mission. This paper is based on a white paper submitted to the European Space Agency's call for science themes for its large-class mission programme in 2013. (C) 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Journal Article
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Planetary and Space Science
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18 Jun 2015 05:44
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08 Jul 2020 04:35