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Science goals and new mission concepts for future exploration of Titan’s atmosphere, geology and habitability: titan POlar scout/orbitEr and in situ lake lander and DrONe explorer (POSEIDON)

Sébastien Rodriguez 1 Sandrine Vinatier 2 Daniel Cordier 3 Gabriel Tobie 4 Richard Achterberg 5 Carrie Anderson Sarah Badman 6 Jason Barnes Erika Barth Bruno Bézard 7 Nathalie Carrasco 8 Benjamin Charnay 7 Roger Clark Patrice Coll 9 Thomas Cornet 10 Athena Coustenis 2 Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli 11 Michel Dobrijevic 12 F Flasar 5 Remco de Kok 13 Caroline Freissinet 14 Marina Galand Thomas Gautier 14 Wolf Geppert Caitlin Griffith Murthy Gudipati Lina Hadid Alexander Hayes Amanda Hendrix Ralf Jaumann Donald Jennings Antoine Jolly 9 Klara Kalousova Tommi Koskinen Panayotis Lavvas Sébastien Lebonnois 15 Jean-Pierre Lebreton 16 Alice Le Gall 14 Emmanuel Lellouch 7 Stéphane Le Mouélic 4 Rosaly Lopes Juan Lora Ralph Lorenz Antoine Lucas 1 Shannon Mackenzie Michael Malaska Kathleen Mandt Marco Mastrogiuseppe Claire Newman Conor Nixon Jani Radebaugh Scot Rafkin Pascal Rannou 3 Ella Sciamma-O’brien Jason Soderblom Anezina Solomonidou Christophe Sotin Katrin Stephan Darrell Strobel Cyril Szopa Nicholas Teanby Elizabeth Turtle Véronique Vuitton 17 Robert West
Abstract : In response to ESA's "Voyage 2050" announcement of opportunity, we propose an ambitious L-class mission to explore one of the most exciting bodies in the Solar System, Saturn's largest moon Titan. Titan, a "world with two oceans", is an organic-rich body with interior-surface-atmosphere interactions that are comparable in complexity to the Earth. Titan is also one of the few places in the Solar System with habitability potential. Titan's remarkable nature was only partly revealed by the Cassini-Huygens mission and still holds mysteries requiring a complete exploration using a variety of vehicles and instruments. The proposed mission concept POSEI-DON (Titan POlar Scout/orbitEr and In situ lake lander DrONe explorer) would perform joint orbital and in situ investigations of Titan. It is designed to build on and exceed the scope and scientific/technological accomplishments of Cassini-Huygens, exploring Titan in ways that were not previously possible, in particular through full close-up and in situ coverage over long periods of time. In the proposed mission architecture, POSEIDON consists of two major elements: a spacecraft with a large set of instruments that would orbit Titan, preferably in a low-eccentricity polar orbit, and a suite of in situ investigation components, i.e. a lake lander, a "heavy" drone (possibly amphibious) and/or a fleet of mini-drones, dedicated to the exploration of the polar regions. The ideal arrival time at Titan would be slightly before the next northern Spring equinox (2039), as equinoxes are the most active periods to monitor still largely unknown atmospheric and surface seasonal changes. The exploration of Titan's northern latitudes with an orbiter and in situ element(s) would be highly complementary in terms of timing (with possible mission timing overlap), locations, and science goals with the upcoming NASA New Frontiers Dragonfly mission that will provide in situ exploration of Titan's equatorial regions, in the mid-2030s.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 2:43:58 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 3:24:58 PM


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Sébastien Rodriguez, Sandrine Vinatier, Daniel Cordier, Gabriel Tobie, Richard Achterberg, et al.. Science goals and new mission concepts for future exploration of Titan’s atmosphere, geology and habitability: titan POlar scout/orbitEr and in situ lake lander and DrONe explorer (POSEIDON). Experimental Astronomy, Springer Link, In press, ⟨10.1007/s10686-021-09815-8⟩. ⟨hal-03658009⟩



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