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Trident: The Path to Triton on a Discovery Budget

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dc.contributor.author Frazier, William
dc.contributor.author Bearden, David
dc.contributor.author Mitchell, Karl L
dc.contributor.author Lam, Try
dc.contributor.author Prockter, Louise
dc.contributor.author Mitchell, Karl L
dc.contributor.author Dissley, Richard
dc.date.accessioned 2021-10-26T16:12:57Z
dc.date.available 2021-10-26T16:12:57Z
dc.date.issued 2020-03-07
dc.identifier.citation 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 7-14, 2020
dc.identifier.clearanceno CL#20-0056
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2014/52281
dc.description.abstract This paper describes Trident, a proposed Discovery mission to Neptune’s moon Triton, 30 AU from the Sun. Triton formed in the Kuiper Belt but was captured by Neptune into a highly-inclined retrograde orbit, where tidal forces thawed its interior, forming an ocean that likely persists to the present day. Recent outer solar system missions like Cassini and New Horizons have yielded completely new models for processes on ocean worlds, active worlds, and KBOs. Triton isn’t just a key to solar system science, it’s a whole keyring: a singular captured KBO and evolved ocean world, with active plumes, an energetic ionosphere, and a young unique surface. The NASA OPAG Roadmap to Ocean Worlds identifies Triton as the highest priority candidate ocean world [1], ripe for investigation. The Trident mission concept is an excellent case study in “design to cost”: we show how exploration of Triton under Discovery is made possible by radioisotope power combined with a rare, extremely efficient Jupiter gravity assist, enabling a simple, lowmass spacecraft design on a ballistic trajectory. The Triton encounter sequence probes for an ocean, measures the ionosphere, and views nearly the whole of Triton as it traverses a single orbit around Neptune, mapping the >60% of the surface that is as yet unseen. The Triton encounter concludes with fullframe imaging illuminated by “Neptune-shine” when Trident is in Neptune eclipse, for direct comparison with Voyager 2’s observations nearly 50 years prior. Trident carries a mature complement of instruments: a Magnetometer, IR Spectrometer & Narrow Angle Camera, Wide-Angle Camera, Plasma Spectrometer, and telecom hardware-enabled Radio Science. The flight system design integrates heritage components from Ball with JPL leadership and expertise in key specialty areas to provide a Voyager-like, robust spacecraft commensurate with a Discovery cost and risk tolerance. Cost avoidance features include: use of existing instrument designs, small blowdown monopropellant propulsion system, a contributed X-band telecommunications system that also performs radio science, and a simple power system. Additionally, the passive thermal design accommodates the large solar dynamic range from Venus to Neptune by using the HGA for shade when close to the sun, and MMRTG excess heat, modulated by louvers.
dc.description.sponsorship NASA/JPL en_US
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher Pasadena, CA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2020
dc.title Trident: The Path to Triton on a Discovery Budget
dc.type Preprint


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