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Paper: Exploration of the Neptune System
Volume: 272, The Future of Solar System Exploration, 2003-2013: Community Contributions to the NRC Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey
Page: 297
Authors: Hammel, H.B.; Baines, K.H.; Cuzzi, J.D.; de Pater, I.; Grundy, W.M.; Lockwood, G.W.; Perry, J.; Rages, K.A.; Spilker, T.; Stansberry, J.A.
Abstract: We propose a mission to the Neptune system comprised of an orbiter with a Neptune atmospheric multi-probe. NASA's Solar System Exploration theme listed a Neptune mission as one of its top priorities for the mid-term (2008-2013). A recent NASA study also gave it top rank- ing for rich scientific return and connections to astrophysical problems outside the Solar System (atmospheric structure and dynamics, geology, ring systems/dynamics, magnetic fields/dynamos, pre-biotic chemistry on Triton, local extrasolar planet analog for Neptune- and Uranus-sized objects), calling it "almost Cassini-like in scope, near Discovery-like in cost" (though the costing was admittedly done in more optimistic times). The Neptune mission's unmatched diversity of science yield should place it at the top of the queue for outer planet exploration.
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