Status Report

GAUSS — A Sample Return Mission to Ceres

By SpaceRef Editor
August 21, 2019
Filed under , ,

Xian Shi, Julie Castillo-Rogez, Henry Hsieh, Hejiu Hui, Wing-Huen Ip, Hanlun Lei, Jian-Yang Li, Federico Tosi, Liyong Zhou, Jessica Agarwal, Antonella Barucci, Pierre Beck, Adriano Campo Bagatin, Fabrizio Capaccioni, Andrew Coates, Gabriele Cremonese, Rene Duffard, Ralf Jaumann, Geraint Jones, Manuel Grande, Esa Kallio, Yangting Lin, Olivier Mousis, Andreas Nathues, Jürgen Oberst, Adam Showman, Holger Sierks, Stephan Ulamec, Mingyuan Wang

(Submitted on 21 Aug 2019)

The goal of Project GAUSS is to return samples from the dwarf planet Ceres. Ceres is the most accessible ocean world candidate and the largest reservoir of water in the inner solar system. It shows active cryovolcanism and hydrothermal activities in recent history that resulted in minerals not found in any other planets to date except for Earth’s upper crust. The possible occurrence of recent subsurface ocean on Ceres and the complex geochemistry suggest possible past habitability and even the potential for ongoing habitability. Aiming to answer a broad spectrum of questions about the origin and evolution of Ceres and its potential habitability, GAUSS will return samples from this possible ocean world for the first time. The project will address the following top-level scientific questions: 1) What is the origin of Ceres and the origin and transfer of water and other volatiles in the inner solar system? 2) What are the physical properties and internal structure of Ceres? What do they tell us about the evolutionary and aqueous alteration history of icy dwarf planets? 3) What are the astrobiological implications of Ceres? Was it habitable in the past and is it still today? 4) What are the mineralogical connections between Ceres and our current collections of primitive meteorites? GAUSS will first perform a high-resolution global remote sensing investigation, characterizing the geophysical and geochemical properties of Ceres. Candidate sampling sites will then be identified, and observation campaigns will be run for an in-depth assessment of the candidate sites. Once the sampling site is selected, a lander will be deployed on the surface to collect samples and return them to Earth in cryogenic conditions that preserves the volatile and organic composition as well as the original physical status as much as possible.

Comments: ESA Voyage 2050 White Paper

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1908.07731 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1908.07731v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Xian Shi 

[v1] Wed, 21 Aug 2019 07:33:54 UTC (6,376 KB)

SpaceRef staff editor.