Uranus hasn’t been poked, prodded, or questioned by NASA in more than 30 years, and one scientist wants to give it the attention it deserves.
by TeeJay Small | published
Whether you are a fan of Galaxy Far, Far Away Adventure star Wars movies or just a humble traveler marveling at modern science from afar, one thing’s for sure: we’re all a little curious about what’s going on on Uranus. NASA hadn’t sent a spacecraft to the distant gas giant in more than 30 years when Voyager 2 conducted an atmospheric inspection in 1986. Now according to Science.orgIt looks like we may finally be ready to explore the vast, unknown recesses of Uranus, using orbiters and probes for comprehensive checks.
Uranus, of course, is the seventh planet from the sun of our solar system and is named after the god of Greek mythology, grandfather of Zeus. With a surface area of 3.121 billion square miles, the planet has the fourth largest planetary mass and the third largest planetary radius in the Solar System. All of this means that Uranus is absolutely gigantic and teeming with oddities to explore.
Not to mention the 27 moons orbiting the gaseous icy giant, the distant planet has a slew of fascinating scientific discoveries to study. Since humans first set foot on the moon in 1969, NASA has been working on even bigger discoveries across the solar system, including many fascinating discoveries of water and crystals on Mars. That’s what NASA scientist Kathleen E. Mandt hopes to replicate with a probe to the far surface of Uranus, searching for liquid water or varying degrees of solidity across the planet’s vast surface.
The probe in question will also teach children and future generations about the origin of Uranus, such as when it was formed and what process led to its existence. The probe will also seek to verify how far, if any, Uranus has moved from its original position. Uranus is so big that measuring its trajectory required the work of hundreds of scientists around the clock, carefully analyzing the slightest changes in trajectory.
With Voyager 2 currently serving as the only attempt to explore Uranus, it seemed no one had the cheek to enter it again until Kathleen E. Mandt made her latest proposal to dive into the mysterious realm. Mandt’s proposal is being surveyed as part of NASA’s decadal survey, which they conduct every decade to determine the technological priorities and capabilities of modern science to shift their focus toward the most urgent developments possible. The scientific community agonizes over getting to Uranus, as surveys are very expensive but always an effective form of groundbreaking information gathering.
A possible exploration of Uranus could reveal secrets of the solar system that scientists in the past could only dream of. With the past 30 years yielding untold advances in science and technology, the future of space exploration could soon mirror Christopher Nolan’s cinematic predictions in 2014. Interstellar. Whether NASA agrees to fund the project and boldly investigate places no one has ever investigated before, we can rest assured that Uranus may one day hold the key to unlocking interstellar space travel to distant galaxies across the universe.
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