If you had a few billion dollars and some of the most talented space scientists and engineers in the world, where would you go?
There’s no wrong answer, really. Even if you narrow it down to just the outer solar system — planets, moons, rings and other cosmic rubble — you’ll never get bored. But that abundance of solar system destinations has downsides, of course, since there’s little chance of ever flying all the missions scientists can dream of. But dreaming up those missions anyway is a vital piece of space exploration, and one that scientists do regularly.
During a recent virtual meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), a science advisory group focused on everything past the asteroid belt, scientists walked the audience through three different mission concept studies that were commissioned to inform the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, which will guide NASA programs between 2023 and