37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 18 Future Missions and Instrumentation
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

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[18.21] NASA's ``Neptune Orbiter with Probes" Vision Mission: Remote Sensing and In Situ Science at Neptune and Triton

T.R. Spilker (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), A.P. Ingersoll (California Inst. of Technology)

The Vision Mission Study team led by the authors reported preliminary results a year ago, based on the science analysis by the Science Team and the first half of engineering study by JPL's ``Team". The team has now completed all aspects of the task to the levels described in the NRA proposal. New Team X studies, augmented by analyses by outside experts, indicate that all the Science Team’s high-priority objectives reported last year can be achieved, and that it is quite likely that the mission could achieve additional high-value science by delivering an instrumented soft-lander to Triton, in addition to the two Neptune atmospheric entry probes previously considered. A ballute decelerator enables delivery of the lander during one of the orbiter's hyperbolic flybys of Triton. This device dissipates more than 99 percent of the energy of a 4 km/s approach via aerodynamic drag in Triton's tenuous atmosphere, yet accounts for less than one third of the approach mass, providing for a significant science payload. The new Team X studies also show that the mission is not dependent on advanced power system developments; the baseline mission (without the Triton lander) could be flown with current-technology Radioisotope Power Systems. The poster will report the final results of this year-long study, and will detail the science to be addressed by a 300-400 kg Triton lander.

This work was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to NASA's Office of Space Science.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.