Titan/Saturn System Mission 2008: Exploring Titan on a Budget (and Without Aerocapture!)
Elliott, John O.
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Titan has been the topic of a number of mission studies in recent years, culminating in the 2007 Titan Explorer flagship mission study led by APL with JPL participation. This study, as with those previous, made use of the favorable conditions of Titan's atmosphere to allow aerocapture directly into Titan orbit, a technique which would provide over 6 km/s delta-V capability, greatly increasing delivered mass to Titan when compared to purely propulsive options. This year NASA has chosen to continue study of a Titan/Saturn System Mission, but with new ground rules that encourage a quick flight time to Titan while precluding the use of aerocapture. Further direction includes performing Saturn system science (including Enceladus) in addition to purely Titan-focused investigations, as well as a requirement to provide accommodation for a European-provided in-situ vehicle that would be delivered to Titan by the orbiter spacecraft. The financial cap for the US portion of the mission has been set at $2.1B (FY07). The sum of these constraints has resulted in a complete redesign of the Titan mission and flight system, the most notable changes being driven by the necessity of providing a large onboard chemical delta-v capability to take the place of aerocapture. Responding to these constraints, the JPL-APL-ESA/ESTEC team has developed a concept that meets study ground rules and provides an extremely valuable post-Cassini exploration of Titan and the Saturn system. This paper presents an introduction to the challenges, the trades and the resulting mission and flight system concept being developed for this potential outer planets flagship mission.