ORACLE : A sample-return mission to Titan

Marlin, Theresa C. and Gentgen, Chloe and Fodde, Iosto and Groshaus, Julieta and Hennig, Anthony and Hudson, Ben and Lin, Angela and Pabarcius, Lucas and Smith, Eric and Vilchis Lagunes, Nathalie and Wall, Mitchell and Jiang, Rebecca and Mahendrakar, Trupti and Shimane, Yuri and Christuraj, Edwin and Gammill, Mariah E.; (2022) ORACLE : A sample-return mission to Titan. In: ASCEND 2022. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA), USA. ISBN 9781624106620 (

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With a hazy atmosphere, a hydrocarbon cycle, seasons, and a diverse set of surface features, Titan is one of the most unique objects in the Solar System. Further exploration of Titan can elucidate its geologic activity, chemical history, and astrobiological potential. While one-way missions can provide a wealth of information about Titan through remote sensing, in-situ measurements, and communication relays back to Earth, returning samples from Titan allows for unparalleled scientific analysis. Here, we propose a novel mission concept to explore and analyze Titan in situ and return samples from its hydrocarbon lakes. Within ORACLE, a separate lander and orbiter segment will perform all the scientific investigations and collect the hydrocarbon lake samples. After collection of the samples, another segment will return the samples to Earth while the lander and orbiter continue investigating Titan. This mission concept demonstrates novel Titan lake sampling technology and incorporates sample return and in-situ scientific investigation to significantly increase our understanding of Titan, with far broader planetary science implications.