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OPS – Outer Planet Systems
Programme group coordinators:
The interiors, atmospheres and magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn in the Juno and Cassini Era
The ongoing Juno and recently concluded Cassini missions have provided crucial new datasets that changed our perspective on the interiors, atmospheres and magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, and challenged current theories on the formation and evolution of giant planets. This session welcomes contributions on a wide range of topics: gravity and magnetic field analysis and interpretation, giant planet magnetospheres, aurorae, radiation environments, atmospheric dynamics, and satellite interactions. The session also welcomes remote observations acquired in support of the Juno and Cassini missions, and discussions of formation scenarios and evolutionary pathways of planetary bodies in our Solar System and beyond.
This session welcomes abstracts addressing all aspects of ice giant systems including (but not limited to) the internal structure of the ice giants, the composition, structure, and processes of and within ice giant atmospheres, and ice giant magnetospheres, satellites, and rings. We also welcome interdisciplinary talks that emphasise the cross-cutting themes of ice giant exploration, including the relationship to exoplanetary science and the connections to heliophysical studies. The session will comprise a combination of solicited and contributed oral and poster presentations on new, continuing, and future studies of the ice giant systems and the connection of the ice giants to our current understanding of planetary origins, both in our solar system and around other stars. We welcome papers that
• Address the current understanding of ice giant systems, including atmospheres, interiors, magnetospheres, rings, and satellites including Triton;
• Advance our understanding of the ice giant systems in preparation for future exploration, both remote sensing and in situ;
• Discuss what the ice giants can tell us about solar system formation and evolution leading to a better understanding of the current structure of the solar system and its habitable zone as well as extrasolar systems;
• Address outstanding science questions requiring future investigations including from spacecraft, remote sensing, theoretical, and laboratory work necessary to improve our knowledge of the ice giants and their relationship to the gas giants and the solar system;
• Present concepts for missions, instruments, and investigations to make appropriate and useful measurements of the ice giants and ice giant systems.
Despite its satellite status, Titan has nothing to envy to planets: it has planetary dimensions, a substantial and dynamic atmosphere, a carbon cycle, a variety of geological features (dunes, lakes, rivers, mountains…), seasons and a hidden ocean. It even now has its own mission: Dragonfly, selected by NASA in the frame of the New Frontiers program.
In this session, scientific presentations are solicited to cover all aspects of current research on Titan: from its interior to its upper atmosphere, using data collected in the frame of the Cassini-Huygens mission (2004-2017) or from ground-based telescopes (e.g., ALMA) or based on modelling and experimental efforts to support the interpretation of past and future observations of this unique world.
Icy worlds and rings: Past and future explorations
The exploration of the outer solar system by Galileo at Jupiter, Cassini-Huygens at Saturn, and New Horizons at Pluto-Charon, has revealed that several icy worlds harbor a subsurface salty ocean underneath their cold icy surface. By flying through the icy-vapor plume erupting from Enceladus' south pole, Cassini proceeded for the first time to the analysis of fresh materials coming from an extraterrestrial ocean, revealing its astrobiological potentials. Even if there is no direct evidence yet, similar oceanic habitats might also be present within Europa, Ganymede and Titan, which will be characterized by future missions currently under development for the exploration of icy Galilean moons (JUICE, Europa Clipper) and of Saturn’s moon Titan (Dragonfly).
Understanding these icy ocean worlds and their connections with smaller icy moons and rings requires input from a variety of scientific disciplines: planetary geology and geophysics, atmospheric physics, life sciences, magnetospheric environment, space weathering, as well as supporting laboratory studies, numerical simulations, preparatory studies for future missions and technology developments in instrumentation and engineering. We welcome abstracts that span this full breadth of disciplines required for the characterization and future exploration of icy worlds and ring system.
Environments of outer planet moons: particles, plasma, fields and dust
This session focuses on outstanding questions on the environments of the moons of outer planets: including the neutral particles (e.g. torii, atmospheres, exospheres, and plumes), electromagnetic fields, dust and plasma, and the interaction of the moons with their environments. Abstracts on all outer planet moons are welcome, including those of Jupiter and Saturn (e.g. Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Rhea, and Titan) and the not-well explored moons of Neptune and Uranus.
Prior developments in this field have lead to significant discoveries (e.g. subsurface oceans) and have given rise to new open questions (e.g. active plumes on Europa). Considering the unprecedented opportunity to study these subjects with the upcoming ESA’s JUICE and NASA’s Europa Clipper missions it is essential to bring together the space community on this topic. This session is important to maximize the scientific output of past and current missions, in support of the future missions.
The different topics include (but are not limited to): active processes (e.g. plumes and volcanoes), moon-magnetosphere interaction, magnetic field studies to characterize sub-surface oceans, surface weathering of the moons, neutral exosphere and ionosphere, preparatory studies for future missions, supporting laboratory studies, simulation studies and observations (ground-based/remote/in-situ). Missions of particular relevance include Galileo, Voyager, Cassini-Huygens, Hisaki, Juno, JUICE and Europa Clipper.
Atmospheric aerosols and cloud particles are found in every atmosphere of the solar system, as well as, in exoplanets. Depending on their size, shape, chemical composition, latent heat, and distribution, their effect on the radiation budget varies drastically and is difficult to predict. When organic, aerosols also carry a strong prebiotic interest reinforced by the presence of heavy atoms such as nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur.
The aim of the session is to gather presentations on these complex objects for both terrestrial and giant planet atmospheres, including the special cases of Titan’s and Pluto's hazy atmospheres. All research aspects from their production and evolution processes, their observation/detection, to their fate and atmospheric impact are welcomed, including laboratory investigations and modeling.
Planetary Dynamics: Shape, Gravity, Orbit, Tides, and Rotation from Observations and Models
Shape, gravity field, orbit, tidal deformation, and rotation state are fundamental geodetic parameters of any planetary object. Measurements of these parameters are prerequisites for e.g. spacecraft navigation and mapping from orbit, but also for modelling of the interior and evolution. This session welcomes contributions from all aspects of planetary geodesy, including the relevant theories, observations and models in application to planets, satellites, ring systems, asteroids, and comets.
Space missions have provided a wealth of data on the atmospheres and aeronomy of rocky planets and moons, from the lower layers up to the external envelopes in direct contact with the solar wind. A recent emerging finding is evidence that the atmosphere behaves as a single coherent system with complex coupling between layers.
This session solicits contributions that investigate processes at work (chemistry, energetics, dynamics, electricity, escape etc...) on the terrestrial bodies of the Solar System and includes studies of the coupling between the lower/middle and upper atmospheres. Contributions based on analysis of recent spacecraft and ground-based observations, comparative planetology studies, numerical modelling and relevant laboratory investigations are particularly welcome. The session will consist of invited and contributed oral talks as well as posters.
Astrobiology is the study of whether present or past life exists elsewhere in the universe. To understand how life can begin in space, it is essential to know what organic compounds were likely available, and how they interacted with the planetary environment. This session seeks papers that offer existing/novel theoretical models or computational works that address the chemical and environmental conditions relevant to astrobiology on terrestrial planets/moons or ocean worlds, along with other theoretical, experimental, and observational works related to the emergence and development of Life in the Universe. This includes work related to prebiotic chemistry, the chemistry of early life, the biogeochemistry of life’s interaction with its environment, chemistry associated with biosignatures and their false positives, and chemistry pertinent to conditions that could possibly harbor life (e.g. Titan, Enceladus, Europa, TRAPPIST-1, habitable exoplanets, etc.). Understanding how the planetary environment has influenced the evolution of life and how biological processes have changed the environment is an essential part of any study of the origin and search for signs of life. Major Space Agencies identified planetary habitability and the search for evidence of life as a key component of their scientific missions in the next two decades. The development of instrumentation and technology to support the search for complex organic molecules and the endurance of life in space environments is critical to define unambiguous approaches to life detection over a broad range of planetary environments.
This session welcomes abstracts from several scientific domains such as prebiotic and interstellar chemistry, micropaleontology, limits of life, habitability, and biosignature detection.
Ionospheres of unmagnetized or weakly magnetized bodies
Ionospheres are a fundamental part of planetary and cometary atmospheres that are formed by solar radiation and are affected by a myriad of different processes, such as space weather activity or neutral atmosphere variations. Moreover, ionospheres play an important role in controlling the dynamics of the system, as they are the link between the neutral atmosphere, exosphere and surrounding plasma environments (e.g. the solar wind for Mars, Venus, Pluto and comets, and the Kronian magnetosphere for Titan). Understanding how each unmagnetized body reacts to all these factors is a key in comparative aeronomy because although a priori all of them have a general similar behavior, they also have scientifically important differences caused by their different natures.
This session focuses on the ionospheres of Mars, Venus, Pluto, Titan, and comets, and solicits abstracts concerning remote and in situ data analysis, modeling studies, instrumentation and mission concepts. Topics may include, but are not limited to, day and night side ionospheric variability, sources and influences of ionization, ion-neutral coupling, current systems, comparative ionospheric studies, and solar wind-ionosphere interactions and responses of the ionized and neutral regimes to transient space weather events. Abstracts on general plasma and escape processes are also welcome.
The emphasis of the session is on all aspects of plasma physics and interactions of solar and stellar wind interactions with planets and exoplanets, including: (a) magnetospheric dynamics, aurorae, and radio emissions (b) potential impact of star-(exo-)planet coupling on habitability, (c) comparative studies between Solar System planets and exoplanets. We welcome contributions relying on space-based or ground-based observations as well as theoretical modelling and simulations.
The emphasis of the session is on all aspects of the conditions in the Sun, solar wind and magnetospheric plasmas that extend the concepts of space weather and space situational awareness to other planets in our Solar System than Earth, and in particular to spacecraft that travel through it. Abstracts on space- and ground-based data analysis, theoretical modeling and simulations of planetary space weather are welcomed. The description of new services accessible to the research community, space agencies, and industrial partners planning for space missions and addressing the effects of the environment on components and systems are also strongly encouraged. This session will also summarize the planetary space weather services developed during Europlanet RI H2020 as well as introduce the future ones to be developed by the Sun-Planet Interactions Digital Environment on Request Work Package during Europlanet RI H2024.
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