2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 18
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Concept for a Mission to Titan, Saturn System and Enceladus

REH, Kim R.1, BEAUCHAMP, Patricia M.1 and ELLIOTT, John O.2, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, M/S 301-345, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, (2)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, M/S 301-490, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, Kim.R.Reh@jpl.nasa.gov

As anticipated by the 2003 Decadal Survey, recent Cassini-Huygens discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of the Titan system and its potential for harbouring the ingredients necessary for life. These discoveries reveal that Titan is rich in organics, possibly contains a vast subsurface ocean and has energy sources to drive chemical evolution. With these recent discoveries, the interest in Titan as the next scientific target in the outer Solar System is strongly reinforced.

In 2008, NASA commissioned a mission study of the Titan Saturn System. The baseline concept would consist of a chemically propelled orbiter, with accommodations for ESA-contributed in situ elements, and would launch on an Atlas 551 in 2016-2018 timeframe, travelling to Saturn on a Venus-Earth-Earth gravity assist (VEEGA) trajectory, and reaching Saturn approximately 10 years later.

Prior to Saturn orbit insertion (SOI), the orbiter would target and release ESA-provided in situ elements after which the spacecraft would orbit around Saturn. This phase would accomplish Saturn system and Enceladus science (4 Enceladus flybys) while executing leveraging Titan pump down manoeuvres required for Titan orbit insertion. The spacecraft would then enter into a 950 km by 15,000 km elliptical orbit. The next phase would utilize concurrent aerosampling and aerobraking (to a depth of 600 km altitude) in Titan's upper atmosphere, gradually moving the orbit toward circular and reducing the propellant required to achieve a final circular mapping orbit, which is a 1500 km circular, 85º polar mapping orbit that initiates in the 10 AM orbit plane and would move ~ 40º towards the 8 AM orbit plane.

The Titan Saturn System Mission maps well to NASA and ESA scientific objectives and this concept indicates that a flagship-class Titan mission is ready to enter Phase A and can be launched in the 2016-18 timeframe, requiring no new technologies