Small Platforms for Planetary Exploration: Missions and Technologies

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The Science Partner Journal Space: Science & Technology presents a special issue: Small Platforms for Planetary Exploration: Missions and Technologies.


Planetary exploration currently experiences a spectacular and fast development of missions focusing on the in-situ investigation of planetary and small bodies extreme environments, and/or requiring multiple platforms to fulfill their scientific objectives. With this trend, more and more planetary missions will either be based on a stand-alone small platform or combine a main interplanetary carrier with one or several small platforms that will be tailored to the needs of surviving and conducting science operations in these challenging environments. 

This special issue of Space: Science and Technology, following the AOGS 2021 PS07 session on this subject, welcomes articles presenting the current and future trends in the use of small space platforms for planetary exploration, and connecting the science objectives addressed by these platforms with the technologies at the instrument and platform levels that need to be developed for these missions. We particularly welcome submissions addressing the following themes:

  • Typical scientific missions and scientific instruments for planetary missions with small platforms
  • Advanced small platforms for extreme environments
  • Advanced propulsion and power
  • Autonomous operation and decision-making technologies
  • Swarm formation and communication
  • Piggyback launch and On-orbit deployment

    Guest Editors

    Prof. Michel Blanc is a planetary scientist working at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), Toulouse and for part of his time at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM), France. His research focuses on Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere coupling at the different solar system planets and on the comparative study of Planetary Systems. He has been the first coordinator of the Europlanet program of the European Union from 2005 to 2012. He currently leads the “Planetary Exploration, Horizon 2061” foresight exercise. He has been an Interdisplinary Scientist on the Cassini-Huygens mission, the initiator of the Laplace mission proposal to ESA which led to the selection of JUICE, and is currently a co-Investigator on NASA’s Juno mission. He has published about 200 articles in peer-reviewed international journals. He is a full member of the Air and Space Academy, of the International Academy of Astronautics, and of the Academia Europaea.

    Dr. Pierre Bousquet is a Senior expert on Planetology, Exploration and Microgravity in the Scientific project Directorate at the French space agency, CNES, in Toulouse, France, and the Project manager of the French contribution to ESA’s BepiColombo mission. He leads several design studies on small probes for Deep Space exploration. He is a technical Advisor to the French delegation for ESA’s Program Board on Human Missions and Exploration, a senior member of the French Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAAF), a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and a Member of the Space Exploration committee of the International Astronautics Federation (IAF) and of the UN-mandated 'Space Missions Planning Advisory Group' (SMPAG) on the threat represented by near-Earth objects. He is the author of over 50 publications at international conferences or in international peer-reviewed journals, and occasionally lectures at French engineering schools ISAE, EUROSAE and EMAC.

    Dr. Linli Guo is the vice chief engineer of DFH satellite company, a subsidiary to China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) in China. She has authored over 4 books and over 70 scientific articles. and has been an active member of the SOC of the successive Horizon 2061 international workshops. She has a rich experience in system design of launch vehicles, and took part in the launch campaigns of the Long March rocket for many times. She devoted many years as director of the research laboratory of manned Interplanetary exploration mission, mainly engaged in manned lunar exploration mission planning and system design of lunar base and ISRU. At present, she is committed to research on satellite technology in view of its use in the future deep space exploration missions in china. She was also officially recommended as a visiting lecturer at the International Space University (ISU), and has been elected in 2019 to be a member of the IAA astrodynamics professional committee.

    Dr. Steve Vance is Supervisor of the Planetary Interiors and Geophysics group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the USA, managed by the California Institute of Technology. He is currently the President of the Planetary Science section of the AOGS. Vance is also serving as Co-Chair of the Europa Clipper mission’s Habitability Assessment Board, responsible for ensuring the success of that mission’s integrated science goals. He has extensive experience in instrument development and mission formulation, participating in the development of the EJSM, Europa Habitability Mission, Europa Clipper, and Jupiter Europa Mission concepts, among others, and has led numerous papers and book chapters exploring the connection between planetary geophysics and habitability. He was key in developing the Templeton-Foundation-funded ELSI Origins Network (EON), part of the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In his global collaborations, Vance has held visiting professor positions at the University of Washington in Seattle and at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

    Prof. Hajime Yano is a space scientist in Solar System exploration specializing Solar System small bodies, cosmic dust and astrobiology at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Japan. Prof. Yano has been a PM, PI, and Co-I for more than a dozen of space missions led by JAXA, NASA and ESA, including EQUULEUS, Hayabusa2, Hayabusa, Tanpopo2, Tanpopo, IKAROS, SFU, BepiColombo, EuReCa, Stardust, and LDEF.  He has served leading positions for organizing numerous scientific meetings in the collaboration with COSPAR, IAU, ISTS, AOGS, and space agencies.  At present he is Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and vice chair and DEI liaison officer of the Science Commission B (Space Studies of the Earth-Moon System, Planets, and Small Bodies of the Solar System) of COSPAR.  He teaches space science, astronautics, and project management at a number of graduate schools in Japan.

      Submission Deadline

      September 30, 2022

        Submission Instructions

        Please select "Small Platforms for Planetary Exploration: Missions and Technologies" as the section/category during the submission process. Please also indicate in your cover letter that your submission is intended for inclusion in the special issue.

        Table of Contents

        As articles within the special issue are published they will appear below.

        The View of Micro-Propulsion Technology for China's Advanced Small Platforms in Deep Space

        Yanming Wei, Hao Yan, Xuhui Liu, Yang Yu, Jinyue Geng, Tao Chen, Tuoqu Fu, Gaoshi Su, Yu Hu, Daoman Han

        Space: Science & Technology, vol. 2022, Article ID 9769713, 9 pages, 2022