Planetary Penetrators - The Vanguard for the Future Exploration of the Solar System

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G. Collinson; UK Penetrator Consortium (2008), JBIS, 61, 198-202

Refcode: 2008.61.198
Keywords: Planetary Penetrators, Probes, Lunar Science, Moon, Europa, Enceladus, Titan, MoonLITE

The UK Penetrator Consortium is aiming to develop spacecraft weighing <15 kg, rugged enough to survive impacts with planetary surfaces at speeds of up to 300 m/s and bury themselves a few meters into the surface. A full-scale trial is currently under preparation, leading towards a proposed Lunar mission, called “MoonLITE”, early next decade. Detectors for volatiles aboard MoonLITE will search for the presence of lunar water, whilst seismometers will measure the strength and frequency of moonquakes over the mission's nominal one-year period and probe the internal structure of the moon using simultaneous measurements of seismic waves that travel through the lunar interior. The consortium also has long term plans for more ambitious missions to Jupiter's moon of Europa, and Saturn's Moons of Titan and Enceladus as part of ESA's Cosmic Visions Programme. Key goals include the search for sub-surface oceans, the study of sub-surface geochemistry and seismic activity and the search for organic molecules of exobiological importance.


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