American astronomer Kathleen Mandt explained why Uranus needs to be explored with a special apparatus. An article about this was published in the journal Science.
Firstly, the scientist notes that the choice of Mars as the main object for study was due to its proximity to the Earth and the presence of a solid surface on which to sit. Uranus, on the other hand, has a dense atmosphere and is unsuitable for landing due to the lack of land.
Despite this, says Kathleen Mandt, research on Uranus is extremely important. This planet moves in orbit, rotating “on its side” – that is, the axis of rotation is inclined to the plane of the orbit by almost 90 degrees. Because of this, pronounced seasonal fluctuations occur on the planet with a period of 84 Earth years, in addition, during the period of possible observation from the Earth, the side of Uranus turned towards us is covered with fogs and clouds. This significantly complicates the study and limits the amount of data obtained.
Uranus belongs to the class of ice giants, its atmosphere consists mainly of hydrogen and helium. This planet has 27 moons and rings that also repeat the strange tilt of the axis of rotation. Only Voyager 2 has ever made a close flyby of the planet, but now is not the right time to launch a new one. A successful orbital position for the launch of the planets will occur in 2032, when it will be possible to save fuel in flight through a series of gravity assist maneuvers. The development of the apparatus can be started right now, which is what the scientist calls for.
If the mission is successful, the probe launched into the orbit of the planet will reveal the true nature of the planet’s atmosphere, determine whether its core is made of rock or ice, and possibly explain how it got such a strange tilt.