A review of the in situ probe designs from recent Ice Giant mission concept studies
journal contributionposted on 06.03.2020, 14:50 by Amy Simon, Leigh Fletcher, Chris Arridge, David Atkinson, Athena Coustenis, Francesca Ferri, Mark Hofstadter, Adam Masters, Olivier Mousis, Kim Reh, Diego Turrini, Olivier Witasse
For the Ice Giants, atmospheric entry probes provide critical measurements not attainable via remote observations. Including the 2013–2022 NASA Planetary Decadal Survey, there have been at least five comprehensive atmospheric probe engineering design studies performed in recent years by NASA and ESA. International science definition teams have assessed the science requirements, and each recommended similar measurements and payloads to meet science goals with current instrument technology. The probe system concept has matured and converged on general design parameters that indicate the probe would include a 1-meter class aeroshell and have a mass around 350 to 400-kg. Probe battery sizes vary, depending on the duration of a post-release coast phase, and assumptions about heaters and instrument power needs. The various mission concepts demonstrate the need for advanced power and thermal protection system development. The many completed studies show an Ice Giant mission with an in situ probe is feasible and would be welcomed by the international science community.