Exploring Triton with Multiple Landers

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T.S. Balint (2006), JBIS, 59, 355-363

Refcode: 2006.59.355
Keywords: Triton, lander, solar system exploration, radioisotope power system

In our pathway for Outer Planetary Exploration several mission concepts were considered, based on the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission architecture. This paper describes a JIMO follow-on mission concept to Neptune's largest moon. Triton is a target of interest for outer solar system studies. It has a highly inclined retrograde orbit, suggesting that it may have been a Kuiper Belt object, captured by Neptune. Given this assumption, its composition, which may include organic materials, would be of significant scientific interest. The present concept considers a surface mission architecture with two landers, each powered by a standard multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG). The landers would operate on the surface for several years providing science data, thus expanding our understanding of the environment, the dynamic surface and atmospheric processes, and some of the seasonal variations. A JIMO class orbiter would provide telecommunication link between the landers and Earth, and would be instrumented to observe both Triton and Neptune. In this paper all key aspects of the mission architecture are addressed, including the science instruments, the main subsystems, trade options for the power system, and a conceptual design for the landers.

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