The distant ice giants of the Solar System, Uranus and Neptune, have only been visited by one space mission, Voyager 2. The current knowledge on their composition remains very limited despite some recent advances. A better characterization of their composition is however essential to constrain their formation and evolution, as a significant fraction of their mass is made of heavy elements, contrary to the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. An in situ probe like Galileo would provide us with invaluable direct ground-truth composition measurements. However, some of the condensibles will remain out of the grasp of a shallow probe. While additional constraints could be obtained from a complementary orbiter, thermochemistry and diffusion modeling can further help us to increase the science return of an in situ probe.
Space Science Reviews
- Pub Date:
- May 2020
- Ice giants;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication in Space Science Reviews