Uranus orbiter and probe mission : Project Upsilon

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2014-05

Authors

Lu, Jason Yunhe

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Abstract

Project Upsilon is a proposed NASA Flagship Class, Uranus Orbiter and Probe mission concept to investigate Uranus' planetary magnetic field and atmosphere. Three spacecraft - the Upsilon-0 Propulsion Module, the Upsilon-1 Science Orbiter, and the Upsilon-2 Atmosphere Probe - shall be implemented to meet needs, goals, and objectives as stated by the NASA Solar System Planetary Science Decadal Survey 2013-2022. Upsilon-0 shall be expended in order to complete orbital capture about Uranus. Upsilon-1 shall study Uranus' planetary magnetic field, obtaining real-time measurements for nominally 20 months within the first two years of arrival; and for as long as possible after the first two years, as part of an extended science mission. Upsilon-2 shall be descended into Uranus' cloud tops to obtain physical data and imagery well into the atmosphere's depths. Chemical propulsion is employed in place of solar-electric propulsion, with regard to the interplanetary system-level trade tree. The interplanetary trajectory requires a single un-powered flyby of Jupiter, selected among several flyby node configurations. The science orbit produces nearly repeating latitude-longitude tracks over a rotating Uranus. The statistical estimation method combines an orbit determination model with respect to Uranus' flattening, and a simple magnetic dipole model for field line modeling. A 7-year period is allotted for the technology research and development, and the testing and verification stages of the project life cycle; the interplanetary journey to Uranus requires 21 years; and the nominal in-situ operation lifetime is 2 years. The Project Upsilon spacecraft launch in 2021 to "revolutionize our understanding of ice giant properties and processes, yielding significant insight into their evolutionary history"; contributing to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey's, and NASA's, key planetary science and deep space exploration visions.

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