About this Research Topic
For example, Enceladus captured our attention as Cassini flew-by and observed active water plumes, a subsurface ocean, and potentially active silicate interior. Titan sparked excitement as Cassini and the Huygens probe revealed an active hydrological cycle feeding liquid hydrocarbon rivers, lakes, and seas on a world with prebiotic chemistry - and it is the subject of NASA’s upcoming Dragonfly mission. The Galilean moons are other impressive exploration targets, as subsurface oceans may be present beneath the ice shells of Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede (the only satellite known to possess a magnetosphere).
The goal of this Research Topic is to collect new ideas on scientific investigations and mission concepts devoted to the study of icy moons, including but not limited to their formation, chemical and physical evolution, internal structure, magnetics, and habitability. These concepts can include orbiters, constellation networks, landers, rovers, probes, jumpers, explorers, sample return, and any innovative architecture dedicated to the scientific investigation of icy moons. We particularly encourage submissions presenting in-situ exploration concepts.
Our current understanding of icy worlds is largely in debt to fly-by observations such as NASA’s Juno, and including NASA’s Voyagers, which will continue with NASA’s Europa Clipper, scheduled for Jupiter arrival in 2030. Under current plans, in 2035 ESA’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) will become the first spacecraft to orbit an icy moon (Ganymede). Innovative approaches for in-situ exploration are required to reach a new frontier of icy moon science. The importance of in-situ data collection was demonstrated by the Huygens space probe, which landed on Titan in 2005, but data collection was limited to a few hours during the descent phase and following touchdown.
We invite contributions related to compelling and transformative scientific investigations and engineering feasibility studies of icy moons.
Any study concerning the exploration of icy moons is welcome, and examples of what contributions may be focused on include but are not limited to:
● Scientific investigations
● Scientific measurement requirements
● Scientific instrument design
● New scientific insights enabled by analog studies, laboratory work, computational simulations, remote sensing, or in situ exploration
● Novel mission architectures (orbiter, lander, rover, sample-return, etc.)
● Technological solutions and simulations
● Trajectory design and optimization
● Navigation and orbit determination techniques (autonomous, semi-autonomous)
● Planetary protection
In addition to original research, we also invite reviews and perspectives addressing these topics.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Keywords: space mission, mission design, icy moon, exploration, deep-space, habitability
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.