Specialist Discussion Meeting: Future Exploration of the Outer Plan ets

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A RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by:


Dr Leigh Fletcher (University of Oxford) fletcher_at_atm.ox.ac.uk and Dr Chris Arridge (MSSL/UCL) csa_at_mssl.ucl.ac.uk



Exploration of the giant planets of our solar system over the past several decades has revealed four unique, complex and dynamic worlds.  They serve as natural planetary-scale laboratories for the fundamental physics and chemistry at work throughout our solar system, and can be viewed as miniature solar systems in their own right.  Our understanding of these planets remains in its infancy, but the four giants serve as templates for the interpretation of exoplanetary systems being discovered throughout our galaxy.  The purpose of this Royal Astronomical Society Specialist Discussion Meeting on December 14th 2012 is to bring together experts in giant planet systems to identify the key science questions for future exploration of the outer solar system.  The themes of this meeting include:

• Drivers for exploration of the Jupiter system by Juno and JUICE – open questions and the scientific potential.
• Orbital exploration of an Ice Giant planetary system – science questions and technological feasibility.
• In situ exploration of giant planet atmospheres (probes) and satellite surfaces (landers) to provide a window onto the formational history of our solar system.
• Future space-telescopic observations of our solar system in the post-Hubble/Spitzer/Herschel era (e.g., capabilities of JWST and the need for planetary spectroscopy).


Abstracts concerning recent research and open questions on the present state of these planets (dynamics, chemistry and vertical structure); their temporal evolution and coupling between their atmosphere, interior, magnetosphere, satellites and ring systems are also welcome.   This meeting will explore the rationale and drivers for outer solar system exploration in the coming decades, and discuss the possibilities for future telescopic and spacecraft missions.  Abstracts should be submitted to Leigh Fletcher (fletcher_at_atm.ox.ac.uk) by December 1st 2012.  Further information on the meeting, including the current programme of talks, can be found at: