Special Topic of Planetary Exploration

Published May 2011

A woman resident of the village of Doninos looks at the beach after new stains of fuel oil appeared overnight near her house north of El Ferrol in northern Spain on November 22, 2002. Thousands of birds, fish and wildlife have been affected after the Prestige tanker laden with 70,000 tonnes of fuel oil split in two and sank, triggering what ecologists said could become one of the world's worst oil spills.REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

Mars is the planet that has received the most attention in the past 10 years, in part because astrobiologists interested in the origin of life in our solar system have adopted the policy of "follow the water," and Mars had abundant surface water in the past. Two Mars Exploration Rovers have produced a wealth of information on the surface geology. The rover Opportunity has functioned for seven years, or 25 times longer than its planned mission.

Top 20 Highly Cited Papers
10-Year Period | 2-Year Period
Time Series Graphs
( 1- & 5-Year Periods)

 

The features of this Special Topic outlined above represent distinct slices of citation data. By approaching citation data from multiple angles, we can observe trends and anomalies across categories—leading to more rich and nuanced stories behind the data.

The baseline time span for this database is (publication years) January 1, 2001-March 18, 2011. This analysis was created using the Web of Science® from Thomson Reuters. The resulting database contained 9,400 (10 years) and 2,416 (2 years) papers; 17,195 authors; 97 nations; 1,574 journals; and 3,761 institutions. See additional information below in the overview & methodology sections.

 

Topic Overview


Cassini spacecraft. Collection: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Collection Title: Cassini Spacecraft Fully Assembled AC Creator: NASA/JPL-Caltech Description: The fully assembled Cassini spacecraft as it appeared Feb. 14, 1997 in JPL's spacecraft assembly facility in Pasadena, CA. The spacecraft is scheduled for launch on its mission to Saturn on Oct. 6, 1997 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Having successfully completed testing in JPL's space simulator, the spacecraft is now undergoing a final round of systems testing prior to shipment this spring to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch preparations. Cassini's mission is to orbit Saturn for four years and study the planet, its rings and moons in detail. The large moon Titan is a principal target for exploration, and Cassini will carry the Huygens probe, seen here mounted on the side of the spacecraft (at left), to be released to enter Titan's thick atmosphere and descend to the surface via parachute. The Huygens probe is provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the radio antenna at top was provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The Cassini mission is a joint endeavor of NASA, ESA and ASI. JPL manages the Cassini program for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
CASSINI SPACECRAFT

The fully assembled Cassini
spacecraft as it appeared
Feb. 14, 1997 in JPL's spacecraft
assembly facility in Pasadena, CA
.
AC Creator: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Credit:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Collection.

The exploration of planets, moons, and asteroids in the solar system has accelerated sharply in the past decade thanks to several highly successful space missions. A flotilla of exploration rovers, landers, and atmospheric probes has enormously increased our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system and its constituent bodies.

The successful design and operation of planetary exploration spacecraft, together with their on-board instrumentation and imaging capabilities, has been a key driver in the expansion of planetary science.

Within the solar system, Mars is the top target of opportunity, and that will remain the situation in the decades to come. Although rather few astrobiologists confidently expect that Mars still harbors living organisms, the search for fossil evidence of life in the geological past is more encouraging. All recent missions have addressed whether life ever existed on Mars, and that theme will continue for the next two decades.

In order to know if Mars was ever suitable for life, robotic exploration and remote sensing are devoted to recovering the history of water on Mars. This is a means of finding out if the Martian environment in the past was conducive to the emergence of life. This policy of "following the water" will continue with the next generation of rovers and the first sample return missions.

Saturn and its large moon Titan were explored by the Cassini-Huygens orbiter and probe that arrived in 2005. The Cassini mission in the Saturnian system has been so successful that it has been extended to encompass further fly-bys of Titan.

It should be noted that this analysis focused on orbiters; a future Special Topics analysis will focus on landers.

INTERVIEWs MENU



Read interviews, first-person essays, profiles, and other features about people in a wide variety of fields, along with information on journals & institutions in the topic of Planetary Exploration. All of the author comments below are also listed in the site-wide Author Commentaries listings (available by month/year or alphabetically).


NOVEMBER 2011
Andrew Coates on the Plasma Environments of the Planets

Andrew J. CoatesIn our Special Topics analysis on Planetary Exploration, the work of Professor Andrew J. Coates ranks at #2 by papers and #6 by cites, based on 160 papers published over the past decade and cited a total of 2,343 times. In Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Thomson Reuters, Coates has several Highly Cited Papers in the fields of Space Science and Geosciences. In this interview, he talks with ScienceWatch.com about his highly cited work.

 


OCTOBER 2011
Athena Coustenis Discusses Her Work on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Athena CoustenisOur Special Topics analysis of papers on planetary exploration, published 2001–2011, ranks the work of Dr. Athena Coustenis at #9 by total cites and #13 by cites per paper, based on 72 papers that have received 1,945 total citations. Five of these papers are among the top 20 papers over the past decade or the past two years. In this interview, Coustenis discusses the highlights of her special interest, Titan, with ScienceWatch.com correspondent Simon Mitton.

 


SEPTEMBER 2011
Stamatios Krimigis on Exploring the Heliosphere

Stamatios M. KrimigisOur Special Topics analysis on planetary exploration ranks the work of Professor Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis at #9 by total papers and #16 by total cites, based on 112 papers that have received 1,605 total citations in the past decade. Two of these papers appear on the top 20 lists in the analysis as well. In this interview, ScienceWatch.com astronomy correspondent Simon Mitton talks with him about his work in heliospheric physics.

 


AUGUST 2011
Jonathan Lunine on Missions to Saturn & Jupiter

Jonathan LunineOur Special Topics analysis on Planetary Exploration research over the past decade shows that the work of Dr. Jonathan Lunine ranks at #3 by total cites and #7 by number of papers, based on 122 papers cited a total of 2,806 times. In Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Thomson Reuters, Lunine's record includes several Highly Cited Papers in the field of Space Science, Physics, and Geosciences. In this interview, he talks with ScienceWatch.com about his highly cited work in planetary exploration.

 


JULY 2011
Ralph Lorenz Talks About Exploring Titan

Ralph LorenzIn our Special Topics analysis on Planetary Exploration over the past decade, the work of Dr. Ralph Lorenz ranks at #3 by numbers of papers and #10 by total cites, based on 145 papers cited a total of 1,866 times during the analysis period. According to the Web of Knowledge® from Thomson Reuters, his record for the period of January 1, 2001 to June 4, 2011 includes 274 original articles, reviews, and proceedings papers cited a total of 2,246 times. In this interview, we talk with Lorenz about his highly cited research regarding planetary exploration.

 


JUNE 2011
C.T. Russell on the Magnetism of Planetary Exploration

C.T. RussellOur Special Topics analysis on Planetary Exploration shows that the work of Dr. C.T. Russell ranks at #6 by number of papers and #18 by total cites, based on 124 papers cited 1,554 times. His current record in Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Thomson Reuters includes 208 papers cited a total of 2,767 times between January 1, 2001 and February 28, 2011. In this interview, ScienceWatch.com talks with Russell about his highly cited research.

Thresholds



Once the database was in place, it was used to generate list of authors, journals, institutions, and nations. Rankings for author, journal, institution, and country are listed in three ways: according to total cites, total papers, and total cites/paper*. The paper thresholds and corresponding percentages used to determine scientist, institution, country, and journal rankings according to total cites/paper, and total papers respectively are as follows:

Entity Authors Institutions Journals Nations
Thresholds 29 104 5 7
Percentage: 1% 1% 50% 50%
*Unless otherwise specified, all rankings have a >= 5 paper threshold for all measures.

Methodology



The baseline time span for this database is (publication years) January 1, 2001-March 18, 2011. This analysis was created using the Web of Science® from Thomson Reuters. The resulting database contained 9,400 (10 years) and 2,416 (2 years) papers; 17,195 authors; 97 nations; 1,574 journals; and 3,761 institutions. See additional information below in the overview & methodology sections.

Keywords



In this analysis, Special Topics examines the literature on these various spacecraft and missions over the past decade and over the past two years.

To construct the data pool, the following search strings were employed in titles, abstracts, and keywords sections of original articles, reviews, and proceedings papers published in the Web of Science® database from Thomson Reuters from January 1, 2001 to March 18, 2011: "planetary explor*" OR "planetary probe*" OR Cassini OR Huygens OR Saturn OR Titan OR Akatsuki OR "Venus Climate Orbiter" OR "Planet C" OR "Venus Express" OR Voyager* OR (Mars AND "Mars Express" OR "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter" OR "2001 Mars Odyssey") OR (Pluto AND "New Horizons") OR (Ceres AND Dawn) OR ("MErcury Surface Space ENvironment GEochemistry and Ranging" OR "MESSENGER Mission" AND Mercury) OR (Venus AND planet*).

Note: Due to the lack of core papers on this subject, there is not a Research Front Map to accompany the Special Topic of Planetary Exploration.

Pictures and Featured Images


A Russian Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov tries on a space suit during a training exercise at the Star City training centre outside Moscow March 30, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Remezov.
A Russian Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov tries
on a space suit during a training exercise
at the Star City training centre outside
Moscow March 30, 2011.
REUTERS/Sergei Remezov.

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Featured head image: Spacecraft Hubble: Hubble Floating Free (2002). Photo from NASA IMAGES and HUBBLESITE.

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