MUSE - mission to the Uranian system: unveiling the evolution and formation of ice giants

Tatiana Bocanegra-Bahamón, Colm Bracken, Marc Costa Sitjà, Dominic Dirkx, Ingo Gerth, Kostas Konstantinidis, Christos Labrianidis, Matthieu Laneuville, Armin Luntzer, Jane Macarthur, Andrea Maier, Achim Morschhauser, Tom A. Nordheim, Renaud Sallantin, Reinhard Tlustos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The planet Uranus, one of the two ice giants in the Solar System, has only been visited once by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986. Icegiants represent a fundamental class of planets, and many known exoplanets fall within this category. Therefore, a dedicated mission toan ice giant is crucial to improve the understanding of the formation, evolution and current characteristics of such planets in order toextend the knowledge of both the Solar System and exoplanetary systems.In the study at hand, the rationale, selection, and conceptual design for a mission to investigate the Uranian system, as an archetypefor ice giants, is presented. A structured analysis of science questions relating to the Uranian system is performed, categorized by thethemes atmosphere, interior, moons and rings, and magnetosphere. In each theme, science questions are defined, with their relativeimportance in the theme quantified. Additionally, top-level weights for each theme are defined, with atmosphere and interior weightedthe strongest, as they are more related to both exoplanetary systems and the Uranian system, than the other two themes (which are morespecific for the planet itself). Several top level mission architecture aspects have been defined, from which the most promising conceptswere generated using heuristic methods. A trade-off analysis of these concepts is presented, separately, for engineering aspects, such ascost, complexity, and risk, and for science aspects. The science score for each mission is generated from the capability of each missionconcept to answer the science questions. The trade-off results in terms of relative science and engineering weight are presented, and com-petitive mission concepts are analyzed based on the preferred mission type.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2190-2216
Number of pages27
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Uranus
  • Ice giants
  • Orbiter
  • Probe
  • Moon tour


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