Scientists set their eyes on Uranus, the 7th planet of the Solar System
Scientists want a mission to be organized for Uranus, the seventh planet of the Solar System. So, what is the reason for this interest in Uranus?
More than 30 years have passed since humanity last visited Uranus. Our last brief visit to the ice giant was on January 24, 1986, when NASA's Voyager 2 rover passed by the planet on its way to Neptune.
Thanks to this close pass, it was also possible for us to see the planet and its moons properly for the first time. Now, scientists once again request a special mission to help unravel the mysteries of Uranus.
Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus and its twin Neptune are filled with gases such as hydrogen and helium.
However, Neptune and Uranus have more hydrogen and heavier elements than the other two giants of our solar system. Therefore, these two are called ice giants.
While the images provided by Voyager 2 answered some questions, many new questions about Uranus came to the fore.
Still, 30 years later, we don't have any better images of the planet. Also, the need for a special mission to Uranus is not a new request. In April 2022, science advisors in the US made a big effort to launch a mission to study Uranus.
The absence of a special mission to Uranus was previously identified as a problem in NASA's decade-long review. Learning more about the ice giants in our solar system is identified as one of the top priorities for the next decade. Therefore, it would not be surprising to see NASA or other space exploration institutions announce special missions to Uranus. However, it seems like it will take some time for these missions to become reality.
A paper published by Kathleen Mandt in February indicates that both the Sample Return and Europa Clipper missions, which will bring Mars samples back to Earth, are ranked above the Uranus Orbiter and Probe in the 2003-2013 ten-year research plan and the 2013-2023 ten-year research plan. . The fact that both of these missions are in development means that a special mission to Uranus is planned for the future.
But curiosity isn't the only reason why astronomers want to send a probe to study Uranus. At the heart of this desire is the fact that understanding how ice giants form and migrate can have "wide implications for explaining the distribution of small bodies in our solar system," as Mandt explains in his paper.
Sending a special mission to Uranus could help scientists in many ways, including understanding how life-supporting elements are transmitted to the inner solar system and even beyond.