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

C. S. Arridge 1, 2 N. Achilleos 2, 3 J. Agarwal 4 C. B. Agnor 5 R. Ambrosi 6 N. André 7 S. V. Badman 8, 9 K. Baines 10, 11 D. Banfield 12 M. Barthélémy 13 M. Bisi 14 J. Blum 15 T. Bocanegra-Bahamon 16 B. Bonfond 17 C. Bracken 18 P. Brandt 19 Cyril Briand 20 Christelle Briois 21 S. Brooks 10 J. Castillo-Rogez 10 T. Cavalié 22 B. Christophe 23 A. Coates 1, 2 G. Collinson 24 J. F. Cooper 24 M. Costa-Sitja 25 R. Courtin 20 I. A. Daglis 26 I. de Pater 27 M. Desai 28 D. Dirkx 16 G. Filacchione 29 M. K. Dougherty 30 R. W. Ebert 28 L. N. Fletcher 31 J. Fortney 32 I. Gerth 16 D. Grassi 29 D. Grodent 17 E. Grün 33, 34 J. Gustin 17 M. Hedman 35 R. Helled 36 Pierre Henri 21 Sebastien Hess 37 J. K. Hillier 38 M. H. Hofstadter 10 R. Holme 39 M. Horanyi 34 G. Hospodarsky 40 S. Hsu 34 P. Irwin 41 C. M. Jackman 42 O. Karatekin 43 S. Kempf 34 E. Khalisi 44 K. Konstantinidis 45 H. Krüger 22 W. S. Kurth 46 C. Labrianidis 47 V. Lainey 48 L. L. Lamy 20 M. Laneuville 49 D. Lucchesi 29 A. Luntzer 50 J. Macarthur 2 A. Maier 51 A. Masters 8, 30 S. Mckenna-Lawlor 52 H. Melin 6 Anna Milillo 29 G. Moragas-Klostermeyer 53 A. Morschhauser 54 J. I. Moses 55 O. Mousis 56 N. Nettelmann 32 F. M. Neubauer 57 T. Nordheim 1, 2 B. Noyelles 58 G. S. Orton 10 M. Owens 59 R. Peron 29 C. Plainaki 29 F. Postberg 44 N. Rambaux 60, 20 K. Retherford 28 S. Reynaud 61 E. Roussos 22 C. T. Russell 62 A. M. Rymer 1 R. Sallantin 7 A. Sánchez-Lavega 63 O. Santolik 64 J. Saur 65 K. Sayanagi 66 P. Schenk 67 J. Schubert 68 N. Sergis 69 E. C. Sittler 24 A. Smith 1 F. Spahn 70 R. Srama 44 T. Stallard 3 V. Sterken 71, 72 Z. Sternovsky 34 M. Tiscareno 73 G. Tobie 74 F. Tosi 33, 72 M. Trieloff 38 D. Turrini 29 E. P. Turtle 19 S. Vinatier 20 R. Wilson 34 P. Zarka 20
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : 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.
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C. S. Arridge, N. Achilleos, J. Agarwal, C. B. Agnor, R. Ambrosi, et al.. The science case for an orbital mission to Uranus: Exploring the origins and evolution of ice giant planets. Planetary and Space Science, Elsevier, 2014, 104, part A, pp.122-140. ⟨10.1016/j.pss.2014.08.009⟩. ⟨hal-01059416⟩



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