Why NASA’s Next Big Space Mission is the Icy Planet, Uranus?


Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and has the third largest diameter in our solar system. It was the first planet found with the help of a telescope. Uranus was discovered in 1781 by the astronomer William Herschel, even though he thought the origin was a comet or a star.

Two years later the object was universally accepted as a new planet, in part because of observations by astronomer Johann Elert Bode. Herschel tried unsuccessfully to name his discovery Georgium Sidus after King George III. Instead, the scientific community accepted Bode’s suggestion to call him Uranus, the Greek god of the sky, as suggested by Bode.​

Why does NASA want to visit Uranus?

The long-neglected planet Uranus could be getting a visitor for the first time in decades. NASA has announced it will dispatch a flagship mission to study the giant planet, according to a new report from a panel of US planetary scientists. The agency always follows the panel’s advice.  

The Uranus mission would be the first since Voyager 2 whizzed past the icy body in 1986. The expedition could reveal how the planet, its rings and moons formed and evolved over billions of years. This mission will be absolutely transformative,” says Amy Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Uranus is shrouded in scientific mysteries, such as why it almost turns on its side and how it evolved a complex magnetic field. More broadly, studying Uranus could provide information about planets orbiting other stars of the more than 5,000 known exoplanets, the most common of which are Uranus-sized. 

Some planetary scientists have recently asked space agencies to send a large mission to Uranus or Neptune, also last visited by Voyager 2 in 1989. Both planets are “ice giants” composed of large amounts of icy matter swirling around them. a small core of rock. But Neptune didn’t make the cut in the report. “Uranus was ranked higher because it’s now technologically accessible,” says Simon.

Voyager 2’s contribution toward the Uranus mission

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew carefully beyond Uranus in January 1986. At its closest, the spacecraft got inside 81,500 kilometers of Uranus’s cloud tops on Jan. 24, 1986. Voyager 2 radios supplied tons of photos and voluminous quantities of information about the planet, its moons, rings, atmosphere and the magnetic field surrounding Uranus.

Since its release on Aug 20, 1977, Voyager 2’s program has taken the spacecraft to Jupiter in July 1979, Saturn in August 1981, afterward Uranus. Voyager 2 come upon Neptune in August 1989. Both Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, will sooner or later go away from our solar system and enter interstellar space.

Voyager 2’s photos of the 5 biggest moons around Uranus discovered complicated surfaces indications of various geologic pasts incidents. Additionally, The cameras also detected eleven formerly unseen moons. Several studies of the ring, uncover the excellent element of the ring and newly detected ring. Voyager statistics confirmed that the planet’s time of spin is 17 hours, 14 minutes. The spacecraft additionally observed a Uranian magnetic field that is huge and unusual. In addition, the temperature of the equatorial region, which gets much less sunray over a Uranian year, is nonetheless approximately similar to the poles.

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