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 team proposed four missions to the ice giants Uranus and Neptune, including three orbiters and a fly-by of Uranus.

According to New Scientist, the planned probes would launch in the 2030s.

“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.

One of the proposed missions

is a fly-by of Uranus with a narrow-angle camera and a probe that would drop into Uranus’ atmosphere to measure gas and heavy elements.

There are four proposed missions: three orbiters and a fly-by of Uranus with a narrow-angle camera to capture details, especially of the ice giant’s moons. It would also release an atmospheric probe into Uranus’ atmosphere to measure the levels of gas and heavy elements.

Has Uranus been probed?

In January 1986, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew close to Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun.

On January 24, 1986, the spacecraft was 81,500 kilometers (50,600 miles) from Uranus’ cloudtops.

Voyager 2 transmitted thousands of images and large amounts of scientific data about Uranus, its moons, rings, atmosphere, interior, and magnetic environment.

Since its launch on August 20, 1977, Voyager 2’s route has taken the spacecraft to Jupiter in July 1979, Saturn in August 1981, and then to Uranus. Voyager 2’s next encounter was with Neptune in August 1989. Both Voyager 2 and its twin Voyager 1 eventually left our solar system and entered interstellar space.

Images from Voyager 2

of Uranus’ five largest moons revealed complex surfaces indicative of varying geologic pasts. The cameras also discovered ten previously unknown moons.

Deeper Into Uranus
The Moons of Uranus

Several instruments explored the ring system, revealing fine details of previously known rings as well as two newly discovered rings.

According to Voyager data, the planet rotates at a rate of 17 hours and 14 minutes.

The spacecraft also discovered a large and unusual Uranian magnetic field. Furthermore, the temperature of the equatorial region, which receives less sunlight during the Uranian year, is roughly the same as that of the poles.

READ MORE: Why Do Venus and Uranus Spin The Wrong Way?

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