Menu

Lunar and Planetary Institute

Planetary Decadal Survey
White Paper Proposals

The purpose of this site is to allow members of the planetary science community to inform one another of their intent to submit a white paper as part of the planetary decadal survey. This site is for information only. Listing a white paper proposal here does not commit the author to submitting a white paper to the Decadal Survey, and you are not required to list your white paper here in order to submit it for the Decadal Survey.

Click here to submit a white paper proposal.

Link to white papers from previous (2011) Planetary Decadal survey

Please refer any questions to MeetingInfo@hou.usra.edu

Jump to a specific topic:

Astrobiology

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
Mars and other Habitable Worlds as Prebiotic Environments This contribution will consider Mars and other habitable worlds as potential environments in which prebiotic chemistry is ongoing. Chemical analyses of the Martian surface have led to an enhanced understanding of the geochemical environment afforded by this planet. As a relatively accessible environment that is potentially hospitable for life, Mars represents an accessible environment with potential implications for other celestial bodies, such as Titan, Enceladus, and other exoplanets. This white paper will consider lessons learned from Mars exploration and their impacts on exploration of Mars, as well as the implications of the data obtained regarding exploration of other celestial bodies as potential prebiotic environments. Aaron Engelhart, Kennda Lynch, Penelope Boston, Jennifer Blank, Alberto Fairen, Mary Beth Wilhelm, and other interested parties, contact us! Kennda Lynch (klynch@lpi.usra.edu)
Mars Underground: Searching for Signs of Subsurface Life (Shallow and Deep) on Mars and Elsewhere This community contribution will outline the rational, key science objectives, and mission strategies for the research and exploration of subsurface environments with a focus on the search for life in the subsurface. Kennda Lynch, Vlada Stamenkovic, Penelope Boston, Jesse Tarnas, Hermes Hernan Bolívar-Torres, Rachel L. Harris, Jorge A. Torres and others, please contact us! Kennda Lynch (klynch@lpi.usra.edu)
Salty Environments: The importance of current and ancient brine environments as habitats, and preservers of biosignatures Beyond Earth the most likely habitable liquids are salty aqueous solutions, indeed, brines are potentially stable on present day Mars. Further, there is evidence of past salty aqueous environments on Mars (e.g. evaporite deposits in Columbus Crater, intercrater depressions in Terra Sirenum, Jezero Crater, and Gale Crater). Brines can also play an important role in preserving biosignatures and enabling prebiotic chemistry through wet dry cycles. The goal of this contribution is to highlight the value and importance of further research to understand briny environments. This white paper will provide a summary recommendation of the priority research objectives, technology development, and mission strategies that should be focused on in the next decade of planetary exploration. Scott Perl, Kennda Lynch, Edgard Rivera-Valentin, Aaron Engelhart, Bonnie Baxter, Brian Wade, Penelope Boston, Alberto Fairen, and more (contact us)! Scott Perl (scott.m.perl@jpl.nasa.gov)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Exoplanets

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
On the Use of Planetary Science Data for Studying Extrasolar Planets There is an opportunity to advance both solar system and extrasolar planetary studies that does not require the construction of new telescopes or new missions but better use and access to inter-disciplinary data sets. This approach leverages significant investment from NASA and international space agencies in exploring this solar system and using those discoveries as “ground truth” for the study of extrasolar planets. A key advance required to realize this potential is to enable seamless discovery and access within and between planetary science and astronomical data sets. Further, seamless data discovery and access also expands the availability of science, allowing researchers and students at a variety of institutions, equipped only with Internet access and a decent computer to conduct cutting-edge research. D. J. Crichton, J. S. Hughes, R. West, J. Jewell, T. J. W. Lazio Joseph Lazio (Joseph.Lazio@jpl.nasa.gov)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Dwarf planets

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
       
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Giant planets

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
Magnetospheric Studies: A requirement for addressing interdisciplinary mysteries in the Ice Giant systems A future mission to Uranus or Neptune will address scientific mysteries based on insights gained through the Voyager 2 flyby and Earth based observations. As proven by prior missions, magnetospheric measurements will advance space physics and are key to resolve mysteries across many other disciplines, including planetary interiors, atmospheres, rings, and moons, as we will discuss. everybody who is interested Peter Kollmann (Peter.Kollmann@jhuapl.edu)
New Frontiers-class Uranus Orbiter: Exploring the feasibility of achieving multidisciplinary science with a mid-scale mission Uranus presents a compelling scientific target for many reasons, providing a unique opportunity to explore Ice Giant system science. For many reasons, the imperative and timely exploration of Uranus will not only enhance our understanding of the Ice Giant planets but also extends to planetary dynamics throughout our solar system and beyond. The timeliness of a mission to Uranus is thus a primary motivation for evaluating what science can be done with a lower-cost, potentially faster-turnaround mission, such as a New Frontiers (NF)-class orbiter to Uranus. Just as our understanding of those planets was transformed beyond expectations by dedicated orbiter missions (e.g., Galileo, Juno, Cassini), so too will our knowledge of Uranus expand from the necessary multiyear measurements and investigation. Ian Cohen, C. Beddingfield, S. Brooks, S. Brueshaber, R. Cartwright, A. Coustenis, R. Chancia, G. Clark, G. DiBraccio, S. Dutta, L. Fletcher, M. Hedman, R. Helled, R. Holme, Y. Kasaba, P. Kollmann, S. Luszcz-Cook, and others (please join us!) Ian Cohen (Ian.Cohen@jhuapl.edu)
The Saturn Ring Skimmer The innovative Saturn Ring Skimmer mission concept will observe individual ring particles for the first time, will directly measure the magnetosphere in the region where it is shaped by the rings, and will directly measure the atmosphere of a disk. By taking a broad look at how the rings, the magnetosphere, the upper atmosphere, and the planetary interior compose a coherent interconnected system, the Saturn Ring Skimmer will address new science questions that we didn’t know to ask until the end of Cassini. By studying disk dynamics at the individual particle level, the Saturn Ring Skimmer will use this natural laboratory to help us understand exo-disks and planetary formation. By determining the role played by Saturn’s rings in driving the Saturn system to be very different from Jupiter, the Saturn Ring Skimmer will help us to understand a whole class of exoplanets. We advocate for the New Frontiers list to include an entry that addresses these science objectives. Matthew S. Tiscareno, Matthew M. Hedman, Mar Vaquero, and the Saturn Ring Skimmer Team Matt Tiscareno (matt@seti.org)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Infrastructure

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
In-space computing infastructure will revolutionize science missions In-space computational resources such as high-volume storage and fast processing will enable instruments to gather and store much more data than would normally be possible, even if it cannot be downlinked to earth in any reasonable time. The data can be kept on-site for selective retrieval or on-site batch processing guided by downlinked summaries. Under this paradigm, science analysis benefits from on-site summarization, archival for future downlink, access to 3-6 orders of magnitude more data, and multi-sensor fusion without data loss. A secondary benefit is support for increasingly-autonomous systems, including mapping, planning, and multi-robot collaboration. Key to both of these concepts is treating the spacecraft not as an autonomous agent, but as an interactive batch processor, which reduces need for "quantum leaps" in machine intelligence to realize the benefits, and enables regime where analysis techniques are well understood, verifiable, and trusted by the science community. JPL, Ames, APL, Caltech, USGS, Lockheed Martin Joshua Vander Hook (hook@jpl.nasa.gov)
The Next-Generation Planetary Radar Planetary radar observations have a laudable history of “firsts” including the determination of the astronomical unit at the precision sufficient for interplanetary navigation, the distribution of water at the south pole of the Moon, indications of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions at the poles of Mercury, polar ice and anomalous surface features on Mars, indications that the asteroid 16 Psyche is an exposed (metallic) core of a planetoid, establishing the icy nature of the Jovian satellites, and the initial characterizations of Titan's surface. In many cases, these discoveries by planetary radar systems have motivated missions or radar instruments on missions. This white paper summarizes the current state of the Nation's planetary radar infrastructure and future prospects. T. J. W. Lazio et al. Joseph Lazio (Joseph.Lazio@jpl.nasa.gov)
The Planetary Data System The PDS aspires to provide an integrated world-wide data services platform that enables the efficient discovery, dissemination, use and analysis of internationally sponsored planetary science archives. This paper will describe our vision for the PDS over the next decade and beyond. Louise Prockter, Matt Tiscereno, the PDS node leads and staff, PLANETARY DATA USERS LIKE YOU! PLEASE SIGN ON TO THIS PAPER, THANK YOU!. Louise M Prockter (prockter@lpi.usra.edu)
Use of Autonomy to Increase Science Return and Enable Novel Science A close partnership between people and semi-autonomous machines has enabled decades of space exploration, but to continue to expand our horizons, our systems must become more capable. Increasing the nature and degree of autonomy - allowing our systems to make and act on internal decisions - enables new science capabilities. Fundamentally, this opens up the exploration of regions that were previously inaccessible, enabling new science observations that are currently beyond our reach. Increased autonomy also improves the quality and yield of our science data, by allowing better and more reliable utilization of observing time, capturing unpredictable exogenous events of interest, and classifying and prioritizing on-board data, resulting in better use of limited downlink resources. All of the missions being considered for inclusion in the Planetary Decadal can benefit from application of autonomy to increase science return and enable novel science observations. PSD-wide set of scientists, engineers and technologists. John Day (john.c.day@jpl.nasa.gov)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Mars

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
A case for Mars Polar Science The scope is to show all of the important science that we can do related to ice and climate in the next decade, at mid-latitudes and the poles. With all of the knowledge gained since the arrival of MRO, the time is right for new missions in orbit and on the ground to study the fundamental aspects of Mars in the Amazonian that have received less attention than older terrains. Open to anyone Isaac Smith (ibsmith@psi.edu)
Interplanetary Dust Detection at Mars - A Significant Knowledge Gap and a Straightforward Remedy Interplanetary dust and meteoritic infall on Mars affects a broad swath of important scientific questions. First, since Mars lacks standing water, crustal recycling, and eruptive volcanism, infall is the dominant source of modern carbon input onto the martian surface. Secondly, the hypothesis has been proposed that Phobos and Deimos derive their dark albedo and carbon-rich reflectance spectrum from interplanetary dust, for which the flux is relatively high because the moons lie in Mars' gravitational well. Third, meteoritic infall has been proposed as an explanation for both the "background" levels of atmospheric methane, and the periodic methane outbursts as a product of meteor shower activity. Also, since meteor activity has never been directly measured on Mars, actual measured data are unavailable for hazard avoidance for future crewed missions. Dust and meteoritic infall are scientifically important to our understanding of Mars and its moons, but data on dust flux and annual variations remain a near-complete knowledge gap. To date, only one NASA mission carried an instrument dedicated to dust detection at Mars - the Mariner IV flyby. That spacecraft was physically damaged by an intense meteor storm while still near Mars' orbit, highlighting the need for such measurements. This paper will advocate for a dedicated dust detection instrument for a future Mars orbiter as a straightforward solution for the current knowledge gap. Dust detection instruments are high-heritage instruments with a long history of successful employment across the Solar System. Marc Fries Marc Fries (marc.d.fries@nasa.gov)
Measuring Mars Atmospheric Winds from Orbit Goal is to emphasize the importance of global measurements of vector-resolved (2D) atmospheric winds from orbit. White paper will list the scientific value of the measurements (winds are key to atmospheric transport of dust, water, trace gases; winds are the predominant force scuplting the surface for the last 1-2 Gy+) and emphasize that there are instruments that are ready for flight (JPL Sub-mm instrument, MARLI lidar at GSFC, others?) that could perform these measurements. Scott Guzewich, co-authors welcome Scott Guzewich (scott.d.guzewich@nasa.gov)
The geometry and distribution of Valles Marineris This paper addresses the observable double curve of the Valles Marineris system and proposes it came about as a result of a Coriolis deflection of a debris train from a Paleo moon. Further evidence in support of this hypothesis is the observed distribution of Valles Marineris, which follows an inverse square law distribution, the type of distribution that is predicted of a partial debris ring in orbit following tidal disruption Dan James Dan James (danjamesdeveloper@gmail.com)
The importance and feasibility of in-situ planetary aeolian and meteorological investigations This white paper will outline (1) the Mars, planetary, and fundamental science questions that could be aided through in-situ, concurrent investigation of meteorology, surface-atmosphere exchange of sediment and volatiles, and near-surface sediment flux rates. (2) the types of studies/measurements needed to address these questions (e.g., to do field studies analogous to terrestrial aeolian and meteorological studies, coupled with models). (3) why it's feasible to engage in such investigations on Mars in the coming decade. Serina Diniega Serina Diniega (serina.diniega@jpl.nasa.gov)
Toward predicting Martian dust storms and climate This will emphasize (i) the importance of understanding dust lifting mechanisms for modeling the Martian dust cycle and hence climate, (ii) the importance of making in situ meteorological (especially wind) and aeolian measurements and mapping global surface dust/sand availability, (iii) the fact that until we can model realistic present day dust cycles - vs prescribing them based on observations - we cannot hope to model realistic past dust cycles, and (iv) the possibilities for predicting dust storms and their impact on climate, and why this may be vital for manned mission EDL/Ascent Vehicle/surface operations. Open to anyone Claire Newman (claire@aeolisresearch.com)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Mercury

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
Mercury's Low Reflectance Material - Evidence for graphite flotation in a Magma Ocean? This white paper will identify the unique scientific opportunity to understand planetary evolution by investigating Mercury's low reflectance material. R. Klima, C. Ernst, N. Chabot, K. Vander Kaaden, S. Besse, M. Fries Rachel Klima (Rachel.Klima@jhuapl.edu)
Sample Return from Mercury This paper will discuss the importance of future exploration of Mercury with the ultimate goal being the return of a sample to Earth for laboratory based analyses. K. Vander Kaaden, F. M. McCubbin, P.K. Byrne, N.L. Chabot, C.M. Ernst, C.I. Johnson, M.S. Thompson Kathleen E. Vander Kaaden (kathleen.e.vanderkaaden@nasa.gov)
Science Opportunities from Mercury's Ice-bearing Polar Deposits Mercury's polar deposits offer a unique opportunity to study organics and water ice in the inner Solar System. In this paper, we will discuss the compelling science related to polar ice on Mercury, and outline key next steps in addressing important outstanding science questions. Ariel N. Deutsch, Nancy L. Chabot, Indhu Varatharajan, Carolyn Ernst, and any other interested parties (please let us know!) Ariel Deutsch (ariel_deutsch@brown.edu)
The Case for Landed Mercury Science In this white paper, we detail outstanding questions related to several aspects of Mercury’s character and evolution that can be addressed either more fully, or uniquely, by a landed mission. We discuss major outstanding questions of Mercury science that encompass five categories, and suggest how they might be addressed. Paul K. Byrne, David T. Blewett, Nancy L. Chabot, Steven A. Hauck, Erwan Mazarico, and Kathleen E. Vander Kaaden Paul Byrne (paul.byrne@ncsu.edu)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


The Moon

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
A Next Generation Lunar Orbiter A next generation lunar orbiter would support multiple goals of the lunar science community, as defined by the Lunar Exploration Roadmap, the Next Steps on the Moon Specific Action Team (Next-SAT), and the Advancing Science of the Moon Specific Action Team (ASM-SAT). Science goals addressed by the orbiter would include, but not be limited to (1) understanding the bombardment history of the inner solar system through detailed study of crater populations (including present-day impact rates), (2) furthering our understanding of the diversity of lunar crustal rocks, including lithologies that are rare in or absent from the Apollo sample collection (e.g., highly silicic lithologies and potential mantle material), (3) investigation of the lunar poles and the volatile resources they hold, (4) refining our knowledge of lunar volcanism to better understand the thermal and compositional evolution of the Moon, and (5) investigation of space weathering and regolith development processes to understand how airless body surfaces evolve over time. Tim Glotch et al. Timothy Glotch (timothy.glotch@stonybrook.edu)
Exploring end-member lunar volcanism at the Aristarchus Plateau The Aristarchus Plateau contains the Moon's largest explosive volcanic deposit, the widest and deepest sinuous rille, and evidence for silicic volcanic materials. Exploring the diverse volcanic units in this region would help to determine the timing and nature of peak volcanism, constrain the compositional variability and volatile content of the lunar interior, and close strategic knowledge gaps about extracting in situ utilizable resources such as water trapped in the volcanic glass. The Plateau also hosts Aristarchus crater, a well-preserved impact feature that has excavated a diverse array of mineralogies, which could also be accessed to investigate impact processes. Erica Jawin et al. Erica Jawin (jawine@si.edu)
Lunar Volatiles and Solar System Science This white paper will review advances in our understanding of the distribution, origin and behavior of lunar volatiles over the past decade, outline outstanding science questions old and new, and identify key measurements/technologies needed to address these questions. We explore the case that understanding the past, present and future of the lunar volatile system is not only lunar science, but solar system science. Parvathy Prem, et al. Parvathy Prem (parvathy.prem@jhuapl.edu)
Microwave radiometry of planetary surfaces Describing current results and future design of microwave instruments. Most likely targeted for lunar orbit, but could be applied to other bodies and landed instruments. Matt Siegler, David Blewitt, Jianqing Feng, Paul Hayne... Matthew Siegler (msiegler@psi.edu)
Science case for lander or rover missions to a lunar magnetic anomaly/swirl -Lunar magnetic anomalies are unique natural laboratories for investigating a wide range of planetary processes, including impact effects, planetary magnetism, space weathering, mini-magnetospheres, levitated dust activity, and the volatile cycle on airless bodies. -A robotic mission to a magnetic anomaly is listed in NASA's Strategic Plan for Lunar Exploration. -The paper will list the key planetary science questions that can be addressed by surface exploration of a lunar magnetic anomaly, including traceability to the Decadal Survey, SCEM, and other community documents that describe science priorities, as well as SKGs for human exploration. -The paper will describe how the science questions can be answered by robotic rover or static lander missions, and the instrument payloads needed to collect the relevant data. -Notional landing sites, rover traverse paths, and mission durations will be proposed. David T. Blewett, et al. David T. Blewett (david.blewett@jhuapl.edu)
Understanding and Mitigating Plume Effects during Powered Descents on the Lunar Surface Understanding the effects rocket exhaust has on the lunar surface is critical to safely landing spacecraft and to planning sampling strategies. This document will outline gaps in knowledge regarding plume effects, and what measurements are necessary to fill these gaps. Ryan Watkins and Phil Metzger Ryan Watkins (rclegg-watkins@psi.edu)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Outer planet satellites

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
Io Exploration Io is the best place in the solar system to study tidal heating and extreme volcanism, and is a key destination for future exploration. Keane, Bagenal, Barr Mlinar, Beyer, Bland, de Kleer, Elder, Grava, Gregg, Hendrix, Jessup, Jozwiak, Kerber, Kite, Klima, Lopes, Mandt, McEwen, Neumann, Nimmo, Quick, Radebaugh, Rathbun, Retherford, Roberts, Schenk, Sood, Tsang, Vertesi, Williams, et al. James Tuttle Keane (jkeane@caltech.edu)
The science case for spacecraft exploration of the Uranian satellites The 27 Uranian moons remain enigmatic, with incomplete spatial coverage and moderate to low spatial resolution collected during the Voyager 2 flyby. The best information we have about the surface compositions of these moons comes from ground- and space-based telescopes, which lack the spatial resolution to determine linkages between composition and geologic terrains and features. Furthermore, previously collected datasets hint at the possibility that the classical Uranian moons could be ocean worlds, but a spacecraft orbiting Uranus, making multiple close flybys of these moons, is needed to fully determine whether they have subsurface oceans. Richard J. Cartwright, Chloe B. Beddingfield, Catherine M. Elder, Tom A. Nordheim, Dale P. Cruikshank, William M. Grundy, Ali M. Bramson, Michael M. Sori, Devon M. Burr, Marc Neveu, Robert E. Jacobsen, Michael P. Lucas, Bryan J. Holler, et al. Richard J. Cartwright (rcartwright@seti.org)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Particles and Fields

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
       
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Small bodies

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
       
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Venus

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
       
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.


Interdisciplinary/Other

TitleDescriptionAuthorshipContact
Advancing Space Science Requires NASA Support for Coordination Between the Science Mission Directorate Communities This is a white paper that was submitted to Astro2020 and will be submitted to the Planetary and Heliophysics decadal surveys (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XTx9G7ym9wf8SWH0-pAPXtDKOeWQII3GBV8N2jagD40/edit?usp=sharing). Abstract: There is a growing awareness within the space science community that cross-disciplinary studies will make the greatest advances toward many major scientific objectives. This requires greater coordination and collaboration between the four communities represented by the Divisions of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. As an example, the Exoplanet Science Strategy (NAS, 2018) specifically points out that such collaboration is needed to advance exoplanet science and calls for a coordinated effort throughout the entire space science community. However, this need for coordination is not limited to the exoplanet community. The impact of space weather on the Earth and the planets in our solar system requires coordination between the Earth Science, Planetary and Heliophysics communities. Efforts to understand our habitable heliosphere in the context of astrospheres observed outside of our solar system requires coordination between the Heliophysics, Astrophysics and Planetary communities. Many professional societies and organizations now recognize this need and are beginning to bring scientists together, primarily in the form of topical workshops and Town Halls. We outline here specific steps that can be taken by NASA and by the space science community to further cross-disciplinary research. However, it is important to note that the only way that this effort can be successful is if it is initiated within NASA and is supported through directed resources provided by NASA to the community. Kathleen Mandt and 70+ coauthors from 20+ institutions Kathleen Mandt (kathleen.mandt@jhuapl.edu)
Enabling a New Generation of Outer Solar System Missions: Engineering Design Studies for Nuclear Electric Propulsion We discuss a new nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) capability that would enable a class of outer solar system missions not otherwise be possible and that would significantly enhance a range of other deep-space mission concepts. The capability would increase science payload mass, reduce flight time, increase mission lifetime, and provide ample power for science instruments and/or increased data rates. This advance represents a breakthrough in science value beyond Cassini-class missions, enabling NASA to again plan for large strategic missions to the outer solar system. In 2018, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) developed Kilopower, a new and simple 1 kWe reactor designed specifically for space application. The agencies conducted a test program called KRUSTY, which validated Kilopower’s nuclear performance capability, paving the way for low-risk development of a fission power generator that could be used for astronaut sustainability on the Moon and Mars or as a nuclear power source for outer solar system electric propulsion. Building on the conclusion that NEP enables missions that can no longer be done with current radioisotope power systems, a joint study team from NASA and DOE research centers identified generic and specific benefits of using NEP for outer solar system exploration. NASA intends to develop Kilopower as a key element for sustainability to be flown as early as 2028; this means that the only new technology required for NEP will be funded by the human exploration program. Thus, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) need not fund the development or the development risk attendant to flight-qualify NEP. This makes NEP an even more attractive option for robotic missions in the late 2020 or early 2030 decade. John R. Casani, John O. Elliott, Marc A. Gibson, Steven L. McCarty, Patrick R. McClure, Steven R. Oleson, David I. Poston, Christophe J. Sotin, Nathan J. Strange. Co-signers welcome; please contact us. John R. Casani (John.R.Casani@jpl.nasa.gov)
Go to top
Click here to submit a white paper proposal.

Connect With Us!
LPI Email Newsletters
Newsletter:
Back to top