Mysterious planet: why Uranus is the main target for NASA for a flight

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    Mysterious planet: why Uranus is NASA's top flight target

    Studying Uranus could provide more information not only about the formation of the solar system, but about our galaxy as a whole.

    The last time a NASA spacecraft approached Uranus was back in 1986. It was Voyager 2 that gave astronomers a closer look at the massive pale blue ice giant with an atmosphere of hydrogen, helium and methane, which has many satellites and a strong magnetic field. But until now, scientists know too little about the seventh planet of the solar system. The study of Uranus may shed light on why such planets are often found in the Milky Way and what else this ice giant, Neptune's neighbor, hides from scientists. The National Academy of Sciences of the United States has set NASA the task of sending a spacecraft to Uranus in the near future to find out, writes The Guardian.

    Uranus was discovered in 1781 by the English astronomer William Herschel. Over the past centuries, scientists have found out that this is a very strange planet.

     Mysterious planet: why Uranus is the main target for NASA for a flight

    Uranus is not like other planets

    Unlike the rest of the planets in the solar system, Uranus revolves around the sun as if lying on its side. Therefore, it is always dark and cold in one hemisphere for 42 years, and in the other it is the opposite. Scientists also found that this is the coldest planet in the solar system, despite the fact that its nearest neighbor Neptune is farther from the Sun. Uranus is the only planet named after an ancient Greek god, not a Roman god.

    Mysterious planet: why Uranus is the main target for NASA

    Ready to start, pay attention , NASA

    Given that this icy world, which is 2.8 billion km from the Sun, was last visited by a spacecraft 36 years ago, the US National Academy of Sciences has tasked NASA with sending a new spacecraft to Uranus in the near future to study it carefully.

    “This is very good news. There are many places in the solar system that we know much more about than about Uranus. Jupiter and Saturn are of particular interest, but data from Uranus will help us better understand the formation of our solar system,” says Lee Fletcher from the University of Leicester, UK.

    In recent decades, as scientists began to discover planets outside the solar system, it turned out that massive ice giants like Uranus and Neptune orbit other stars in our galaxy very often.

    “It is not yet clear why there are so many such planets. I believe that these planets are of some importance. There is something special about them. This means that by studying Uranus we can get more information about the galaxy itself. And of course it's time find out what's really happening on Uranus and what its exact composition is,” says Fletcher.

    Mysterious planet: why Uranus is NASA's top flight target

    Flight duration of 13 years

    To get to Uranus, the spacecraft will need to fly around Jupiter several times to gain the desired speed. But scientists say that we need to hurry with the implementation of the flight to Uranus. The best conditions for quickly reaching the planet will be in 2031 or 2032. That's when you need to launch a new apparatus into space. The flight itself will take as much as 13 years. But before that, NASA needs to create a spacecraft to study Uranus, and this requires $ 4 billion.

    According to the preliminary plan, the spacecraft will orbit Uranus and sometimes fly close to its moons. Also, the device will send a small probe into the atmosphere of Uranus for a more thorough study of the planet.

    Mysteries of Uranus

    According to scientists, with the help of a new space mission it is possible to answer several important questions and unravel the mysteries of Uranus:

    • Why are such ice giants so common in the Milky Way?
    • Why is Uranus the coldest planet in the solar system?
    • Why is Uranus's axis tilted in such a way that it almost coincides with the plane of the orbit around the Sun and its poles are located where the other planets have an equator?

    About the “lying position” of Uranus there is a basic theory, which says that a huge asteroid collided with the planet and thus it “lay on its side”.

    “Maybe that's why Uranus has almost no internal heat left and it's so cold there. Only a spacecraft will answer these questions” , says Patrick Irvine of the University of Oxford.

    But not only Uranus can become the number one target for the new NASA spacecraft flight. The second candidate is Saturn's moon Enceladus, which could show signs of microbial life that could exist there, preliminary evidence suggests. The US National Academy of Sciences is proposing that the space agency send a spacecraft there as well.

    By the way, the discoverer of Uranus, William Herschel, originally wanted to name the planet in honor of the British King George III. Thus the planet could be called Georgium Sidus, or George's Star. But the scientific community eventually agreed on the name Uranus.

    Mysterious planet: why Uranus is NASA's top flight target

    Uranus details

      < li>Uranus has 27 moons;
    • Uranus is thought to have three parts: a rocky core, an icy shell, and an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium;
    • Uranus has rings that are not well pronounced, like Saturn;
    • One year on Uranus lasts 84 Earth years;
    • The minimum temperature on Uranus can be -224 degrees Celsius.

    < p>Focus already wrote that scientists managed to find out why the ice giants Uranus and Neptune have a different color of the upper atmosphere.

    About what features the neighbor of Uranus, also icy, has giant Neptune, Focus also already wrote.

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