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Published September 16, 2020 | Submitted
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The Saturn Ring Skimmer Mission Concept: The next step to explore Saturn's rings, atmosphere, interior and inner magnetosphere


The innovative Saturn Ring Skimmer mission concept enables a wide range of investigations that address fundamental questions about Saturn and its rings, as well as giant planets and astrophysical disk systems in general. This mission would provide new insights into the dynamical processes that operate in astrophysical disk systems by observing individual particles in Saturn's rings for the first time. The Ring Skimmer would also constrain the origin, history, and fate of Saturn's rings by determining their compositional evolution and material transport rates. In addition, the Ring Skimmer would reveal how the rings, magnetosphere, and planet operate as an inter-connected system by making direct measurements of the ring's atmosphere, Saturn's inner magnetosphere and the material owing from the rings into the planet. At the same time, this mission would clarify the dynamical processes operating in the planet's visible atmosphere and deep interior by making extensive high-resolution observations of cloud features and repeated measurements of the planet's extremely dynamic gravitational field. Given the scientific potential of this basic mission concept, we advocate that it be studied in depth as a potential option for the New Frontiers program.

Additional Information

A white paper to be submitted to the 2023 Planetary Science Decadal Survey.

Attached Files

Submitted - 2007.15767.pdf


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August 19, 2023
January 15, 2024