Space missions proposed

A meeting was convened at the Royal Astronomical Society under the auspices of the MIST (Magnetospheric, Ionospheric, Solar-Terrestrial physics) community called A New Generation of UK Space Exploration, aimed at generating mission ideas for the MIST community to put their efforts behind. Co convener Dr Jim Wild of Lancaster used his twitter account to keep everyone appraised of happenings, and from there, I get this summary:

The day began with Steve Schwartz of Imperial giving an idea of what it takes to get a mission from Sketchpad to Launchpad. He was followed by Rosemary Young of STFC, giving the view of the UK Space Agency.

Mission concepts kicked off with Geraint Jones of MSSL talking about the Caroline mission for investigating primitive bodies in the solar system. Neil Bowles of Oxford added to this chorus by pointing out some new questions for airless bodies. Chris Arridge of MSSL then fought back with the science case for missions to Uranus and Neptune.

Jennifer Harris of Warwick took a different tack by suggesting the kind of space weather monitoring systems required as support for a manned Mars mission. David Williams of MSSL continued the supporting other science theme by suggesting missions that used the Sun as a particle accelerator. Dhiren Kataria of RAL also suggested in the next session, sources of possible collaboration with China.

Chris Owen of MSSL introduced IMPALAS, which is a multi spacecraft mission to study the boundary between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind. Richard Horne of BAS then made the case for the WARP mission to study processes in the Earth’s radiation belts.

Graziella Branduardi-Raymont of MSSL then brought the solar system as seen in x-rays to the meeting’s attention. Andrew Fazakerley of MSSL also wanted a new view, this time higher resolution views of the aurorae taken using multiple spacecraft. Steve Milan of Leicester then demonstrated how two spacecraft could be used to give a continuous view of the aurorae.

Andrew Coates of MSSL then presented the Fast Auroral Mars Explorer (FAME) mission to study the aurora, atmosphere and subsurface structure of Mars before Dhiren Kataria returned to talk about using nanosatellites as “space weather balloons”.


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