Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 753–791

Uranus Pathfinder: exploring the origins and evolution of Ice Giant planets

Authors

    • Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Department of Space and Climate PhysicsUniversity College London
    • The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck
  • Craig B. Agnor
    • School of Physics and AstronomyQueen Mary University of London
  • Nicolas André
    • Centre d’Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements / CNRS
  • Kevin H. Baines
    • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Leigh N. Fletcher
    • Department of PhysicsUniversity of Oxford
  • Daniel Gautier
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Mark D. Hofstadter
    • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Geraint H. Jones
    • Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Department of Space and Climate PhysicsUniversity College London
    • The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck
  • Laurent Lamy
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Yves Langevin
    • Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, CNRS/Univ. Paris-Sud 11
  • Olivier Mousis
    • Institut UTINAM, CNRS, OSU THETAUniversité de Franche-Comté
  • Nadine Nettelmann
    • Universität Rostock
  • Christopher T. Russell
    • Institute for Geophysics and Planetary PhysicsUniversity of California Los Angeles
  • Tom Stallard
    • Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of Leicester
  • Matthew S. Tiscareno
    • Cornell University
  • Gabriel Tobie
    • LPG, CNRSUniversité de Nantes
  • Andrew Bacon
    • Systems Engineering and Asssessment Ltd.
  • Chris Chaloner
    • Systems Engineering and Asssessment Ltd.
  • Michael Guest
    • Systems Engineering and Asssessment Ltd.
  • Steve Kemble
    • EADS Astrium
  • Lisa Peacocke
    • EADS Astrium
  • Nicholas Achilleos
    • Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity College London
  • Thomas P. Andert
    • Universität der Bundeswehr
  • Don Banfield
    • Cornell University
  • Stas Barabash
    • Swedish Institute of Space Physics
  • Mathieu Barthelemy
    • Université Joseph Fourier/CNRS-INSU / Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG)
  • Cesar Bertucci
    • Institute of Astronomy and Space PhysicsUniversity of Buenos Aires
  • Pontus Brandt
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Baptiste Cecconi
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Supriya Chakrabarti
    • Centre for Space PhysicsBoston University
  • Andy F. Cheng
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Ulrich Christensen
    • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Apostolos Christou
    • Armagh Observatory
  • Andrew J. Coates
    • Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Department of Space and Climate PhysicsUniversity College London
    • The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck
  • Glyn Collinson
    • NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre
  • John F. Cooper
    • NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre
  • Regis Courtin
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Michele K. Dougherty
    • The Blackett LaboratoryImperial College London
  • Robert W. Ebert
    • Southwest Research Institute
  • Marta Entradas
    • Department of Science and Technology StudiesUniversity College London
  • Andrew N. Fazakerley
    • Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Department of Space and Climate PhysicsUniversity College London
    • The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck
  • Jonathan J. Fortney
    • University of California
  • Marina Galand
    • The Blackett LaboratoryImperial College London
  • Jaques Gustin
    • Laboratoire de Physique Atmosphérique et PlanétaireUniversité de Liège
  • Matthew Hedman
    • Cornell University
  • Ravit Helled
    • Department of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of California
  • Pierre Henri
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Sebastien Hess
    • University of Colorado
  • Richard Holme
    • School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Liverpool
  • Özgur Karatekin
    • Royal Observatory of Belgium
  • Norbert Krupp
    • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Jared Leisner
    • Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of Iowa
  • Javier Martin-Torres
    • Centre for Astrobiology
  • Adam Masters
    • Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Department of Space and Climate PhysicsUniversity College London
    • The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck
  • Henrik Melin
    • Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of Leicester
  • Steve Miller
    • Department of Science and Technology StudiesUniversity College London
  • Ingo Müller-Wodarg
    • The Blackett LaboratoryImperial College London
  • Benoît Noyelles
    • Namur Centre for Complex Systems (NAXYS)University of Namur
  • Chris Paranicas
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Imke de Pater
    • University of California
  • Martin Pätzold
    • Rhenish Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of Cologne
  • Renée Prangé
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Eric Quémerais
    • LATMOS, CNRS
  • Elias Roussos
    • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Abigail M. Rymer
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Agustin Sánchez-Lavega
    • University of the Basque Country
  • Joachim Saur
    • Institute of Geophysics and MeteorologyUniversity of Cologne
  • Kunio M. Sayanagi
    • Department of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of California
  • Paul Schenk
    • Lunar and Planetary Institute
  • Gerald Schubert
    • Department of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of California
  • Nick Sergis
    • Office for Space ResearchAcademy of Athens
  • Frank Sohl
    • Institute of Planetary Research, DLR
  • Edward C. SittlerJr.
    • NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre
  • Nick A. Teanby
    • School of Earth SciencesUniversity of Bristol
  • Silvia Tellmann
    • Rhenish Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of Cologne
  • Elizabeth P. Turtle
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Sandrine Vinatier
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
  • Jan-Erik Wahlund
    • Swedish Institute of Space Physics
  • Philippe Zarka
    • LESIA, CNRS-Observatoire de Paris
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10686-011-9251-4

Cite this article as:
Arridge, C.S., Agnor, C.B., André, N. et al. Exp Astron (2012) 33: 753. doi:10.1007/s10686-011-9251-4

Abstract

The “Ice Giants” Uranus and Neptune are a different class of planet compared to Jupiter and Saturn. Studying these objects is important for furthering our understanding of the formation and evolution of the planets, and unravelling the fundamental physical and chemical processes in the Solar System. The importance of filling these gaps in our knowledge of the Solar System is particularly acute when trying to apply our understanding to the numerous planetary systems that have been discovered around other stars. The Uranus Pathfinder (UP) mission thus represents the quintessential aspects of the objectives of the European planetary community as expressed in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015–2025. UP was proposed to the European Space Agency’s M3 call for medium-class missions in 2010 and proposed to be the first orbiter of an Ice Giant planet. As the most accessible Ice Giant within the M-class mission envelope Uranus was identified as the mission target. Although not selected for this call the UP mission concept provides a baseline framework for the exploration of Uranus with existing low-cost platforms and underlines the need to develop power sources suitable for the outer Solar System. The UP science case is based around exploring the origins, evolution, and processes at work in Ice Giant planetary systems. Three broad themes were identified: (1) Uranus as an Ice Giant, (2) An Ice Giant planetary system, and (3) An asymmetric magnetosphere. Due to the long interplanetary transfer from Earth to Uranus a significant cruise-phase science theme was also developed. The UP mission concept calls for the use of a Mars Express/Rosetta-type platform to launch on a Soyuz–Fregat in 2021 and entering into an eccentric polar orbit around Uranus in the 2036–2037 timeframe. The science payload has a strong heritage in Europe and beyond and requires no significant technology developments.

Keywords

UranusIce GiantOrbiterGiant planet atmosphereRing systemInteriorDynamoMagnetosphereNatural satellite

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011