FIRE - Flyby of Io with Repeat Encounters: A conceptual design for a New Frontiers mission to Io

Terry Ann Suer, Sebastiano Padovan, Jennifer L. Whitten, Ross W.K. Potter, Svetlana Shkolyar, Morgan Cable, Catherine Walker, Jamey Szalay, Charles Parker, John Cumbers, Diana Gentry, Tanya Harrison, Shantanu Naidu, Harold J. Trammell, Jason Reimuller, Charles J. Budney, Leslie L. Lowes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A conceptual design is presented for a low complexity, heritage-based flyby mission to Io, Jupiter's innermost Galilean satellite and the most volcanically active body in the Solar System. The design addresses the 2011 Decadal Survey's recommendation for a New Frontiers class mission to Io and is based upon the result of the June 2012 NASA-JPL Planetary Science Summer School. A science payload is proposed to investigate the link between the structure of Io's interior, its volcanic activity, its surface composition, and its tectonics. A study of Io's atmospheric processes and Io's role in the Jovian magnetosphere is also planned. The instrument suite includes a visible/near-IR imager, a magnetic field and plasma suite, a dust analyzer, and a gimbaled high gain antenna to perform radio science. Payload activity and spacecraft operations would be powered by three Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generators (ASRG). The primary mission includes 10 flybys with close-encounter altitudes as low as 100 km. The mission risks are mitigated by ensuring that relevant components are radiation tolerant and by using redundancy and flight-proven parts in the design. The spacecraft would be launched on an Atlas V rocket with a delta-v of 1.3 km/s. Three gravity assists (Venus, Earth, Earth) would be used to reach the Jupiter system in a 6-year cruise. The resulting concept demonstrates the rich scientific return of a flyby mission to Io.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1080-1100
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Io
  • Radiation
  • Spacecraft
  • Volcanism


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