Astrophysicist: urgent need to fly to Neptune

(ORDO NEWS) — A British astrophysicist from the University of Leicester said that humanity urgently needs to launch a mission to explore Uranus and Neptune. He stated this during an interview with New Scientist.

Lee Fletcher studies conditions in the systems of giant planets, both in the solar system and in other stars. He took part in the scientific mission of the Cassini spacecraft, which explored Saturn, as well as in the studies of Jupiter with the JUICE and Juno spacecraft.

According to him, Neptune may provide the key to unraveling the mysteries of many exoplanets. “Ice giants are a separate class of planets, the representatives of which are significantly smaller than the gas giants, like Saturn and Jupiter.

The ice giants of the solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are the closest representatives of the most common class of planets in the universe. The conditions on the planets of this class may differ, but first of all we need to study the ice giants of our system, and only then will we understand the nature of a huge number of other planets in our galaxy, ”he says.

Neptune, according to the scientist, is a very unusual world. It releases twice as much energy as it receives from the Sun – no other planet in our system has such a powerful internal heat source. This leads to the fact that many storms and clouds arise in the atmosphere of Neptune.

At the same time, for some reason, Uranus does not have such an energy source. The research apparatus will be able to collect samples of gases, ices and stones that will help explain this phenomenon, as well as tell scientists how these planets formed and why they differ from gas giants.

The decision to fly must be made urgently due to the fact that the flight requires a gravitational maneuver near Jupiter. For flights to the far reaches of the solar system, the devices approach Jupiter in order to acquire additional acceleration. Jupiter comes into its correct position once every 12-13 years.

According to the scientist, humanity has already missed the last attempt to do this, but the next opportunity will be in the early 2030s. At the moment, NASA is planning a strategy for the next 10 years, and if the decision is made quickly, then the device will have time to develop, and it will be able to reach the ice giants by the 2040s.

At the moment, the only device that has studied Uranus and Neptune from a flyby trajectory is the American Voyager 2. This was in the second half of the 1980s.


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