In March 2019, ESA released a call for scientific themes as part of a long-term planning process to replace the Cosmic Vision (2015-2035). Known as Voyage 2050, this would develop a strategy for the 2035-2050 period. White papers are due on August 5th, 2019, to be followed by a presentation to the community in Madrid, October 29-31 2019.
Although many of us would prefer to see the start of Ice Giant mission long before 2035, this provides the community with an opportunity to make the case for missions to Uranus and Neptune. The white paper will describe the transformative planetary science that can only be delivered via a robotic mission to these distant worlds, and the broader context within astronomy and fundamental physics. The white paper is a significant update to those submitted as part of the L2/L3 process in 2013.
A preprint of the white paper is available here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.02963 Ice Giant Systems: The Scientific Potential of Missions to the Uranus and Neptune Systems (ESA Voyage 2050 White Paper) Leigh N. Fletcher, Nicolas André, David Andrews, Michele Bannister, Emma Bunce, Thibault Cavalié, Sébastien Charnoz, Francesca Ferri, Jonathan Fortney, Davide Grassi, Léa Griton, Paul Hartogh, Ravit Helled, Ricardo Hueso, Geraint Jones, Yohai Kaspi, Laurent Lamy, Adam Masters, Henrik Melin, Julianne Moses, Olivier Mousis, Nadine Nettleman, Christina Plainaki, Elias Roussos, Jürgen Schmidt, Amy Simon, Gabriel Tobie, Paolo Tortora, Federico Tosi, Diego Turrini
White Paper Outline
The 20-page White Paper is being prepared by a team of 30 planetary scientists from institutions across Europe. The sections and authors are as follows:
1. Why Explore Ice Giant Systems?
1.2 Ice Giants in the Cosmic Vision
2. Science Themes for Ice Giant Exploration.
2.1 Origins and Interiors (Ravit Helled, Nadine Nettleman, Olivier Mousis, Diego Turrini, Paolo Tortora, Jonathan Fortney, Yohai Kaspi)
2.2 Atmospheres and Ionospheres (Leigh Fletcher, Thibault Cavalie, Amy Simon, Henrik Melin, Julie Moses, Ricardo Hueso, Paul Hartogh, David Andrews, Davide Grassi)
2.3 Magnetospheres (Elias Roussos, Laurent Lamy, Lea Griton, David Andrews, Adam Masters, Nicolas Andre, Emma Bunce, Christina Plainaki)
2.4 Satellites - Natural and Captured (Geraint Jones, Federico Tosi, Michele Bannister, Francesca Ferri)
2.5 Ring Systems (Sebastien Charnoz, Juergen Schmidt)
3. Ice Giant Science in Context
3.1 Astronomical observatories
3.2 Heliophysics Connection
3.3 Exoplanet & Brown Dwarc Connection
4. Ice Giant Missions
4.1 Architectures: The Case for Orbiters
4.2 Timeliness and Launch Opportunities
4.3 Enabling Technologies
5. Summary and Perspectives
The author list spans the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Israel and the USA.