OSS (Outer Solar System): A fundamental and planetary physics mission to Neptune, Triton and the Kuiper Belt
Abstract: The present OSS mission continues a long and bright tradition by associating the communities of fundamental physics and planetary sciences in a single mission with ambitious goals in both domains. OSS is an M-class mission to explore the Neptune system almost half a century after flyby of the Voyager 2 spacecraft. Several discoveries were made by Voyager 2, including the Great Dark Spot (which has now disappeared) and Triton's geysers. Voyager 2 revealed the dynamics of Neptune's atmosphere and found four rings and evidence of ring arcs above Neptune. Benefiting from a greatly improved instrumentation, it will result in a striking advance in the study of the farthest planet of the Solar System. Furthermore, OSS will provide a unique opportunity to visit a selected Kuiper Belt object subsequent to the passage of the Neptunian system. It will consolidate the hypothesis of the origin of Triton as a KBO captured by Neptune, and improve our knowledge on the formation of the Solar system. The probe will embark instruments allowing precise tracking of the probe during cruise. It allows to perform the best controlled experiment for testing, in deep space, the General Relativity, on which is based all the models of Solar system formation. OSS is proposed as an international cooperation between ESA and NASA, giving the capability for ESA to launch an M-class mission towards the farthest planet of the Solar system, and to a Kuiper Belt object. The proposed mission profile would allow to deliver a 500 kg class spacecraft. The design of the probe is mainly constrained by the deep space gravity test in order to minimise the perturbation of the accelerometer measurement.