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Unmanned Spaceflight.com _ Uranus and Neptune _ Trident, a NASA low cost mission to Triton

Posted by: MarcF Mar 23 2019, 09:22 AM

Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists proposed a new low cost mission to Triton, to check for the presence of an internal ocean inside the moon.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/science/triton-neptune-nasa-trident.html

"Unlike multibillion dollar proposals for spacecraft that the agency has usually sent to the outer solar system, this spacecraft, named Trident, aims to be far less expensive, the mission’s scientists and engineers said, or the price of a small mission to the moon."

To get to Triton, the spacecraft would fly in a fast, straight trajectory after an orbital assist from Jupiter, similar to the flyby that was used by the New Horizons spacecraft to visit Pluto in 2015. It would rely on a payload of scientific instruments to conduct ocean detection and atmospheric and ionospheric science. The spacecraft would photograph the entirety of Triton, which is the largest object in the solar system that has not yet been fully imaged.
Timing is also critical because of the moon’s changing seasons as Neptune makes its orbit around the sun.

“In order to view the plumes that Voyager saw in 1989, we have to encounter Triton before 2040,” said Dr. Mitchell. Otherwise, because of the positions of the objects in their orbits, Triton will not be illuminated again for over eighty years.

Link to original abstract:
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018DPS....5011415P

Fingers crossed !
Regards,
Marc.

Posted by: scalbers Mar 23 2019, 11:16 PM

Interesting - have we past the Triton equinox yet?

Posted by: vjkane Mar 24 2019, 03:01 PM

Here are links to two LPSC 2019 abstracts:

http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2019/pdf/3188.pdf

http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2019/pdf/3200.pdf

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