Enceladus Environmental Explorer (EVE): A Mission Concept

Friday, 19 December 2014
Michael J Lawson1, Elena Sophia Amador2, Brandi L Carrier3, Antonella Albuja4, Jonathan Bapst5, Karen R S Cahill6, Frans Ebersohn7, Seth Gainey8, Gordon Gartrelle9, Rebecca N Greenberger10, John M Hale11, Stephanie Johnston12, Joe Olivares13, Carolyn E Parcheta14, J. P. Sheehan7, Andrew K Thorpe15 and Shannon Kian Zareh16, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States, (3)Tufts University, Medford, MA, United States, (4)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (5)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (6)Self Employed, Silver Spring, MD, United States, (7)University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, (8)University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, United States, (9)University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, United States, (10)Brown University, Providence, RI, United States, (11)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States, (12)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (13)California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, United States, (14)Oak Ridge Associated Universities Inc., Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (15)University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States, (16)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States
Enceladus is an intriguing planetary body, which possibly has the ingredients needed for life. Further, it has numerous (over 100) continuously erupting geysers that eject material into the atmosphere which provide a unique opportunity to sample the body’s internal chemistry from orbit. At JPL’s Planetary Science Summer School, Team X and a group of students developed a mission concept to directly sample Enceladus’ plumes. The mission, named Enceladus Environmental Explorer (EVE), follows NASA’s Planetary Science Decadal survey and would assess the potential habitability of Saturn’s icy satellite through analysis of the chemistry of the subsurface ocean and the nature of the organic chemistry in the plume. EVE would look at geological and geophysical surface processes of Enceladus by investigating the heat output of Enceladus, plumes’ mechanics, the extent of the liquid subsurface reservoir(s), and gravitational variation. The EVE mission concept aimed for a January 2023 launch on an Atlas 551 class launch vehicle and would arrive at Saturn July 2031. A two-year-long Saturn moon tour would allow sufficient deceleration to permit a polar orbital insertion around Enceladus in March 2035, remaining stable for 54 weeks of observation. The proposed instrument payload includes: 1) SUb MilliMeter Enceladus Radiometer (SUMMER; equivalent to Rosetta MIRO), 2) Enceladus Dust and Gas Experiment (EDGE; an enhanced version of Rosetta COSIMA), 3) MAGnetometer for Ionic Concentration (MAGIC; equivalent to MMS/ InSIGHT magnetometer), 4) Visual Imaging Camera with Topographic Observational Resolution (VICTOR) and 5) Enceladus Radio Gravity Science (ERGS). Our suggested orbital timeline would allow the most comprehensive dataset yet collected of a moon in the outer solar system, mapping the entire surface twice with SUMMER and VICTOR, while sampling the plume directly 232 times with EDGE. MAGIC would also provide over a year of sampling of the magnetic field variations from orbit. Enceladus Environmental Explorer (EVE) offers a unique opportunity to determine the potential for life on Enceladus.