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Plasma Environment, Radiation, Structure, and Evolution of the Uranian System (PERSEUS): A Dedicated Orbiter Mission Concept to Study Space Physics at Uranus

Presentation #311.08 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Icy Bodies, Exoplanets, Stars (Poster)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Plasma Environment, Radiation, Structure, and Evolution of the Uranian System (PERSEUS): A Dedicated Orbiter Mission Concept to Study Space Physics at Uranus

The Plasma Environment, Radiation, Structure, and Evolution of the Uranian System (PERSEUS) mission concept defines the feasibility and potential scope of a dedicated, standalone Heliophysics orbiter mission to study multiple space physics science objectives at Uranus. Uranus’s complex and dynamic magnetosphere presents a unique laboratory to study magnetospheric physics as well as its coupling to the solar wind and the planet’s atmosphere, satellites, and rings. From the planet’s tilted and offset, rapidly-rotating non-dipolar magnetic field to its seasonally-extreme interactions with the solar wind to its unexpectedly intense electron radiation belts, Uranus hosts a range of outstanding and compelling mysteries relevant to the space physics community. While the exploration of planets other than Earth has largely fallen within the purview of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, many targets, like Uranus, also hold immense scientific value and interest to NASA’s Heliophysics Division. Exploring and understanding Uranus’s magnetosphere is critical to make fundamental gains in magnetospheric physics and understanding of potential exoplanetary systems and to test the validity of our knowledge of magnetospheric dynamics, moon-magnetosphere interactions, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, and solar wind-planetary coupling. The PERSEUS mission concept study, currently at Concept Maturity Level 4, comprises a feasible payload that provides closure to a range of space physics science objectives in a reliable and mature spacecraft and mission design architecture. The mission is able to close using only a single Mod-1 Next-Generation Radioisotope Thermal Generator by leveraging a concept of operations that relies of a significant hibernation mode for a large portion of its 22-day orbit. Despite this hibernation, the mission still obtains a science phase in the Uranian magnetosphere on each orbit that is comparable to the duration of the Voyager 2 flyby. The baseline payload includes a comprehensive suite of particles and fields instruments as well as a ultraviolet spectrometer and education/public outreach camera.

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