By Andrew Wilson; European Space Agency.; European Space Research and Technology Centre.; ESTEC
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The main goal should now be an in-depth exploration of one of the giant planets in the outer Solar System, of which Jupiter is the most accessible. When considered together with its rings, its diverse moons, and its complex environments of dust, gas and plasma, a giant planet can be seen as a miniature analogue of the Solar System. Studying it can help to build a firmer understanding of the formation of full-scale planetary systems. At present, in situ exploration in the Solar System is the only way we can examine giant planets in detail and provide strong constraints on scenarios for their formation.
An Earth-orbiting mission carrying several different types of ultra-precise clocks could detect a violation of the universality of the redshift even if it was four orders of magnitude smaller than our current best limits. Does Newton’s law of gravity hold at very small distances? On the Earth and in the Solar System, Newton’s law of gravity works very well. Small corrections due to Einstein’s general relativity are well understood. But in some unified theories, the way that gravity depends on the distance between objects should change when the separations are smaller than a particular amount, either because of new short-range forces or because gravity itself changes.
A drag-free experiment in Earth orbit, using cryogenic cooling and ultra-sensitive measurement devices to monitor the free-fall behaviour of different materials, could measure effects at the predicted level and finally reveal the existence of extra gravity-like forces. A coldatom mission containing an atomic interferometer could test the equivalence principle using single atoms at a similar level of accuracy. Do all clocks tick at the same rate? Einstein broadened the equivalence principle to include clocks: all measures of time must behave in the same way in gravitational fields.