In situ Exploration of the Giant Planets

Mousis, Olivier; Atkinson, David H.; Ambrosi, Richard; Atreya, Sushil; Banfield, Don; Barabash, Stas; Blanc, Michel; Cavalié, Thibault; Coustenis, Athena; Deleuil, Magali; Durry, Georges; Ferri, Francesca; Fletcher, Leigh; Fouchet, Thierry; Guillot, Tristan; Hartogh, Paul; Hueso, Ricardo; Hofstadter, Mark; Lebreton, Jean-Pierre; Mandt, Kathleen E.; ... (2021). In situ Exploration of the Giant Planets (In Press). Experimental astronomy Springer 10.1007/s10686-021-09775-z

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Remote sensing observations suffer significant limitations when used to study the bulk atmospheric compositionof the giant planets of our solar system. This impacts our knowledge of the formation of these planets andthe physics of their atmospheres. A remarkable example of the superiority of in situ probe measurements wasillustrated by the exploration of Jupiter, where key measurements such as the determination of the noble gases’abundances and the precise measurement of the helium mixing ratio were only made available through in situmeasurements by the Galileo probe. Here we describe the main scientific goals to be addressed by the futurein situ exploration of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, placing the Galileo probe exploration of Jupiter in a broadercontext. An atmospheric entry probe targeting the 10-bar level would yield insight into two broad themes: i) theformation history of the giant planets and that of the Solar System, and ii) the processes at play in planetaryatmospheres. The probe would descend under parachute to measure composition, structure, and dynamics, withdata returned to Earth using a Carrier Relay Spacecraft as a relay station. An atmospheric probe could representa significant ESA contribution to a future NASA New Frontiers or flagship mission to be launched toward Saturn,Uranus, and/or Neptune.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Wurz, Peter


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2021 16:30

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2021 10:25

Publisher DOI:


ArXiv ID:





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