Planetary Probes: An ESA Perspective
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The on-going Cassini-Huygens science return at Titan demonstrates the great scientific complementarities between in situ measurements and remote sensing observations from an Orbiter. ESA is currently developing the Exomars mission that plans to deploy both a rover and landed geophysical package on the surface of Mars in 2015. A joint ESA/NASA study of the Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) includes two Titan in situ elements, a montgolfiere and a probe/lander, in addition to a Titan Orbiter. TSSM is competing with the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM), jointly studied by NASA ESA and JAXA, for the next outer planet mission to be developed and launched in the 2010's. A new Mars mission is being studied by ESA, under the name Mars-Next, that includes an orbiter and a network of three landers to arrive at Mars in the late 2010's. Technology developments will soon be initiated for future missions to Venus that may include parachuted in situ elements. Planetary probes are now becoming an important tool for the implementation of ESA's planetary robotic and science missions.