NASA Wants To Probe Deeper Into Uranus Than Ever Before

Up until now, NASA has never paid too much attention to Uranus – but now the space agency wants to take a good, long look. And one of the things it might be investigating is all that gas. A NASA group outlined four possible missions to the ice giants Uranus and Neptune.

These missions include three orbiters and a possible fly-by of Uranus. The planned probes would take off in the 2030s, New Scientist reports.

‘The preferred mission is an orbiter with an atmospheric probe to either Uranus or Neptune – this provides the highest science value, and allows in depth study of all aspects of either planet’s system: rings, satellites, atmosphere, magnetosphere,’ says Amy Simon, co-chair of the Ice Giants Pre-Decadal Study group.

MORE: Sorry, you’ve probably been saying the word Uranus wrong your whole life MORE: Hubble just spotted something massive coming out of Uranus One of the proposed missions includes a fly-by of Uranus, which would include a narrow-angle camera – and a probe which would drop into Uranus’s atmosphere to measure gas and heavy elements. There are four proposed missions.

Three orbiters and a fly-by of Uranus, which would include a narrow angle camera to draw out details, especially of the ice giant’s moons. It would also drop an atmospheric probe to take a dive into Uranus’s atmosphere to measure the levels of gas and heavy elements there.

Three orbiters and a fly-by of Uranus, which would include a narrow angle camera to draw out details, especially of the ice giant’s moons. It would also drop an atmospheric probe to take a dive into Uranus’s atmosphere to measure the levels of gas and heavy elements there. Has Uranus been probed?

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew closely past distant Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, in January 1986. At its closest, the spacecraft came within 81,500 kilometres (50,600 miles) of Uranus’s cloudtops on January 24, 1986.

A handout photo released by the Royal Astronomical Society on December 22, 2015 shows a map of the outer solar system.
At the centre of the map is the Sun, and close to it the tiny orbits of the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). Moving outwards and shown in bright blue are the near-circular paths of the giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The orbit of Pluto is shown in white. Staying perpetually beyond Neptune are the trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), in yellow: seventeen TNO orbits are shown here, with the total discovered population at present being over 1,500. Shown in red are the orbits of 22 Centaurs (out of about 400 known objects), and these are essentially giant comets (most are 50-100 km in size, but some are several hundred km in diameter). Because the Centaurs cross the paths of the major planets, their orbits are unstable: some will eventually be ejected from the solar system, but others will be thrown onto trajectories bringing them inwards, therefore posing a danger to civilisation and life on Earth. Planet Earth could be at higher risk of a space rock impact than widely thought, according to astronomers who suggested on December 22 keeping a closer eye on distant giant comets. / AFP / Royal Astronomical Society / Duncan Steel / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / DUNCAN STEEL” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSDUNCAN STEEL/AFP/Getty Images

Voyager 2 radioed thousands of images and voluminous amounts of other scientific data on the planet, its moons, rings, atmosphere, interior and the magnetic environment surrounding Uranus.

Since launch on August 20, 1977, Voyager 2’s itinerary has taken the spacecraft to Jupiter in July 1979, Saturn in August 1981, and then Uranus. Voyager 2’s next encounter was with Neptune in August 1989. Both Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, will eventually leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. MORE: Sorry, you’ve probably been saying the word Uranus wrong your whole life Voyager 2’s images of the five largest moons around Uranus revealed complex surfaces indicative of varying geologic pasts. The cameras also detected 10 previously unseen moons.

Several instruments studied the ring system, uncovering the fine detail of the previously known rings and two newly detected rings. Voyager data showed that the planet’s rate of rotation is 17 hours, 14 minutes. The spacecraft also found a Uranian magnetic field that is both large and unusual. In addition, the temperature of the equatorial region, which receives less sunlight over a Uranian year, is nevertheless about the same as that at the poles.

Via: Metro.co.uk

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