Horst Loeb, Karl-Heinz Schartner, Wolfgang Seboldt, Bernd Dachwald, Jörn Streppel, Hans
Meusemann, Peter Schülke
SEP for a Lander Mission to the Jovian Moon Europa
57th International Astronautical Congress, 2006, Valencia, Spain
Under DLR-contract, Giessen University and DLR Cologne are studying solar-electric propulsion missions (SEP) to the outer regions of the solar system. The most challenging reference mission concerns the transport of a 1.35-tons chemical lander spacecraft into an 80-RJ circular orbit around Jupiter, which would enable to place a 375 kg lander with 50 kg of scientific instruments on the surface of the icy moon "Europa". Thorough analyses show that the best solution in terms of SEP launch mass times thrusting time would be a two-stage EP module and a triple-junction solar array with concentrators which would be deployed step by step. Mission performance optimizations suggest to propel the spacecraft in the first EP stage by 6 gridded ion thrusters, running at 4.0 kV of beam voltage, which would save launch mass, and in the second stage by 4 thrusters with 1.25 to 1.5 kV of positive high voltage saving thrusting time. In this way, the launch mass of the spacecraft would be kept within 5.3 tons. Without a launcher's C3 and interplanetary gravity assists, Jupiter might be reached within about 4 yrs. The spiraling-down into the parking orbit would need another 1.8 yrs. This "large mission" can be scaled down to a smaller one, e.g., by halving all masses, the solar array power, and the number of thrusters. Due to their reliability, long lifetime and easy control, RIT-22 engines have been chosen for mission analysis. Based on precise tests, the thruster performance has been modeled.