AVIATR—Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance

Jason W. Barnes, Lawrence Lemke, Rick Foch, Christopher P. McKay, Ross A. Beyer, Jani Radebaugh, David H. Atkinson, Ralph D. Lorenz, Stéphane Le Mouélic, Sebastien Rodriguez, Jay Gundlach, Francesco Giannini (+19 others)
2011 Experimental astronomy (Print)  
We describe a mission concept for a stand-alone Titan airplane mission: Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance (AVI-ATR). With independent delivery and direct-to-Earth communications, AVI-ATR could contribute to Titan science either alone or as part of a sustained Titan Exploration Program. As a focused mission, AVIATR as we have envisioned it would concentrate on the science that an airplane can do best: exploration of Titan's global diversity. We focus on surface
more » ... hydrology and lower-atmospheric structure and dynamics. With a carefully chosen set of seven instruments-2 near-IR cameras, 1 near-IR spectrometer, a RADAR altimeter, an atmospheric structure suite, a haze sensor, and a raindrop detector-AVIATR could accomplish a significant subset of the scientific objectives of the aerial element of flagship studies. The AVIATR spacecraft stack is composed of a Space Vehicle (SV) for cruise, an Entry Vehicle (EV) for entry and descent, and the Air Vehicle (AV) to fly in Titan's atmosphere. Using an Earth-Jupiter gravity assist trajectory delivers the spacecraft to Titan in 7.5 years, after which the AVIATR AV would operate for a 1-Earthyear nominal mission. We propose a novel 'gravity battery' climb-then-glide strategy to store energy for optimal use during telecommunications sessions. We would optimize our science by using the flexibility of the airplane platform, generating context data and stereo pairs by flying and banking the AV instead
doi:10.1007/s10686-011-9275-9 fatcat:nz2y3vos3bdexoyxxbktzdveee