Uranus Pathfinder was a mission concept for the Uranian system evaluated in the 2010s by the ESA. Scientists from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in the United Kingdom proposed the joint NASA–ESA Uranus Pathfinder mission to Uranus. It would be a medium-class (M-class) mission to be launched in 2022, and was submitted to the ESA in December 2010 with the signatures of 120 scientists from around the globe. The ESA caps the cost of M-class missions at €470 million.
In the baseline concept, UP is an ESA-NASA bilateral and will launch on an Atlas V 551 in January 2025 on an VEE interplanetary transfer to Uranus and will become the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Uranus in November 2037 after a cruise phase lasting 12.8 years.
It will orbit Uranus in a highly eccentric 45-day polar science orbit, with close periapsis distances to Uranus in order to make high fidelity measurements of Uranus’ gravity and magnetic fields.
The scientific payload has a strong heritage in Europe and beyond and includes: narrow angle camera, visible/near-IR imaging spectrometer, thermal IR bolometer, radio science, magnetometer, radio and plasma wave detector, and a plasma detector.
The spacecraft will use MMRTG technology to provide electrical power.
- Schirber, Michael (13 October 2011). "Missions Proposed to Explore Mysterious Tilted Planet Uranus". Space.com / Astrobiology Magazine.
- Arridge, Chris (21 April 2011). "Uranus Pathfinder: Exploring the Origins and Evolution of Ice Giant Planets".
- Sutherland, Paul (January 7, 2011). "Scientists plan Uranus probe". Christian Science Monitor.
- "Call for a Medium-size mission opportunity for a launch in 2022". ESA. 29 Jul 2010.