Science and Exploration

Lessons learned from (and since) the Voyager 2 flybys of Uranus and Neptune

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
June 16, 2020
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Lessons learned from (and since) the Voyager 2 flybys of Uranus and Neptune
Uranus, Neptune
Uranus and Neptune

More than 30 years have passed since the Voyager 2 fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune.

I discuss a range of lessons learned from Voyager, broadly grouped into process, planning, and people. In terms of process, we must be open to new concepts: reliance on existing instrument technologies, propulsion systems, and operational modes is inherently limiting. I cite examples during recent decades that could open new vistas in exploration of the deep outer Solar System. Planning is crucial: mission gaps that last over three decades leave much scope for evolution both in mission development and in the targets themselves.

I touch only briefly on planetary science, as that is covered in other papers in this issue, but the role of the decadal surveys will be examined in this section. I also sketch out how coordination of distinct and divergent international planning timelines yields both challenges and opportunity. Finally,

I turn to people: with generational-length gaps between missions, continuity in knowledge and skills requires careful attention to people. The youngest participants in the Voyager missions (myself included) now approach retirement. We share here ideas for preparing the next generation of voyagers.

Heidi B. Hammel

Comments: 14 pages, 10 figures, 1 table
Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2006.08340 [physics.pop-ph] (or arXiv:2006.08340v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)
Submission history
From: H. B. Hammel
[v1] Fri, 29 May 2020 15:38:19 UTC (7,031 KB)

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