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Journal Articles Space Science Reviews Year : 2020

Reference Model Payload for Ice Giant Entry Probe Missions

D. H. Atkinson
  • Function : Author
O. Mousis
T. R. Spilker
  • Function : Author
F. Ferri
  • Function : Author


Descent probes afford the opportunity to make essential atmospheric measurements that are beyond the reach of remote sensing, including the atmospheric abundances of noble gases and key isotopes, and the structure of the atmosphere beneath the cloud tops. Measurements are defined as Tier 1, representing threshold science required to justify the probe mission, and Tier 2 representing valuable science that significantly complement and enhance the threshold measurements, but of themselves are not sufficient to justify the mission. Tier 1 measurements comprise atmospheric noble gas abundances including helium, key noble gas isotope ratios, and the thermal structure of the atmosphere. Instrumentation required to achieve the Tier 1 measurements include a mass spectrometer, a helium abundance detector, and an atmospheric structure instrument comprising both sensors for pressure, temperature, and atmospheric acoustic properties (speed of sound). Tier 1 science can be achieved with a probe making measurements near one to several bars. Tier 2 science includes measurements of key isotopic ratios, the abundances of atmospheric condensables and disequilibrium species, atmospheric dynamics, the net radiative flux transfer profile of the atmosphere, and the location, composition, properties, and structure of the clouds. To achieve all the Tier 2 science objectives requires a probe descending through at least ten bars carrying the full Tier 1 suite of instruments as well as a nephelometer, net flux radiometer, and an ultrastable oscillator to enable Doppler wind tracking of the probe throughout descent.
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Dates and versions

insu-03667050 , version 1 (13-05-2022)



D. H. Atkinson, O. Mousis, T. R. Spilker, F. Ferri. Reference Model Payload for Ice Giant Entry Probe Missions. Space Science Reviews, 2020, 216, ⟨10.1007/s11214-020-00738-y⟩. ⟨insu-03667050⟩
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