An influential panel of scientists told the US space agency Nasa should give priority to the Uranus mission.
We have to note that the ‘ice giant’ is the seventh planet in our Solar System. It is also orbiting the Sun 19 times farther than Earth.
It has only been visited once before, on a brief flyby by the Voyager-2 probe in 1986.
The researchers believe that an in-depth study of Uranus can help them better understand the many similar-sized objects now being discovered around other stars.
The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a document wherein they have made a recommendation.
The decadal survey summarizes what the American research community believes to be the big questions in planetary science and the space missions needed to answer them.
NASA has generally followed the recommendations of previous NAS reports.
The last decadal planetary survey published in 2011 had two main priorities. Out of which is a rock-collecting mission to Mars. It became the Perseverance Vehicle. Further, it is currently available on the Red Planet. Additionally, it is a mission to Jupiter and its moon Europa, which they are currently preparing for launch in 2024. It is called the Europa Clipper spacecraft.
The closest we have come to Uranus is with the Voyager-2 mission.
Uranus: Seventh Planet From The Sun
Sir William Herschel discovered it in 1781. It rotates around the Sun once every 84 Earth years. The average distance to the Sun is 3,000 million km. It has got at least 13 rings and numerous moons. Its diameter is four times equal to that of our planet. Hydrogen and helium tower the atmosphere.
Specialists who study the outer planets of our Solar System have been campaigning to revisit Uranus or Neptune. They have been campaigning since their encounters with Voyager-2 in the late 1980s. And the case for science has only grown stronger in the intervening years, advocates argue.
Look at the size range of extrasolar planets, which they are now discovering around other stars. They seem to dominate in a range that is about three to four times the width of Earth. That’s Uranus and Neptune.
Planets now being discovered around stars other than our Sun tend to be three to four times the width of Earth. Those are the dimensions of Uranus and Neptune.
Professor Leigh Fletcher, who contributed to the report, explained that it actually poses a problem for theories of planet formation.
A scientist at the University of Leicester, UK, said they think they understand how something gets as big as Jupiter. They think they understand how something gets the size of Earth and Venus. However, he does not fully understand how a world can start to grow and grow in that kind of sweet spot between those end members. Further, it is not just to continue to become similar in size to the mass of Jupiter.
European scientists hope to join the mission, just as they did with the Cassini mission to Saturn.
Favorable launch opportunities in 2031 and 2032 would allow a spacecraft to use a gravity slingshot around Jupiter to shorten the travel time to Uranus to just 13 years.
The spacecraft would orbit around the planet, precluding observations on Neptune’s more distant. The eighth and final planet will have to wait its turn.
Uranus is an oddity compared to the other planets in the Solar System. Its axis of rotation is almost parallel to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. It’s as if it’s been hit broadside, which may well be the explanation: scientists speculate that it suffered a massive impact from another body early in its history.
Uranus has rings and many moons.
The moons are a big draw because many of them are likely to be ocean worlds.
The professor said that this is the idea that they have an icy crust and then have a sort of salty liquid ocean available in the depth location. That may or may not be in touch with whatever quartz rock material is at the bottom.
People think that all five Uranus ocean world candidates are big classical satellites. These moons could have cryovolcanic (ice volcano) activity on them.
The successful completion of the Perseverance rover mission is above all else.
Europe-based planetary researchers such as Professor Fletcher hope that the European Space Agency (ESA) can contribute to such a mission.
NASA and ESA are frequent partners in the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (2004-2017). Still, their priorities and funding cycles do not always coincide.
And for NASA, the speed at which it can implement the recommendation will depend on its other financial commitments. NASA also told them to make the Uranus mission is the priority.
The decadal survey panel explained while completing the Perseverance rover’s objectives. Further called ‘follow-up missions’ designed to bring its rock samples back to Earth came before everything else in importance.