Top Scientists Wants To Probe Uranus Deeper Than Ever Before

The world's leading scientists have spoken – and they want to probe Uranus deeper than ever. 

Each decade, the renowned National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine releases a poll revealing the research priorities of the world's leading planetary scientists and astrobiologists. And this time, that will include a probe of Uranus.

The National Academies Press study "Origins, Worlds, and Life" has plenty of intriguing details, like the fact that scientists consider obtaining Mars rocks a "high priority" and that they want to investigate Saturn's Enceladus moon for life. However, as expected, it is the Uranus probe that has the Twittersphere abuzz.

“It is time to send a probe to Uranus!” The Verge‘s Loren Grush tweeted. “Yes, laugh about it all you want, but a mission to Uranus is considered the highest priority programme the planetary science community wants to see happen over the next decade.”

Indeed, investigating Uranus is a top priority on this scientist's wish list because to put it simply, no one has ever gone there, save for a 1986 fly-by by NASA's Voyager 2 probe, which got within around 50,000 miles of the gas giant.

According to the assessment, the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP) should be the highest priority big mission. Through flybys and the delivery of an atmospheric probe, the UOP would go on a multiyear orbital tour to alter our understanding of ice giants in general, and the Uranian system in particular.

Uranus is classified as a "ice giant," which, according to Robin Canup of the Southwest Research Institute, co-chair of the steering group that determined these scientific goals and talked with NPR about them, is "likely the most common class of planets in the universe."

“We saw this mission as delivering absolutely transformative, breakthrough science because we know so little about these systems,” Canup told NPR. “We are sure there are going to be lots of surprises once we get there.”

Reference(s): TheVerge, National Academies

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