If there’s a chance of finding some weird kind of alien life, it might be worth checking inside Uranus.
That’s the view from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
They’ve recently published a report, called Origins, Worlds, and Life: A Decadal Strategy for Planetary Science and Astrobiology 2023-2032, which says we should be paying closer attention to the distant planet.
In a nutshell, this collection of scientists argue Uranus should be the highest priority for a Nasa planetary mission over the next decade.
These kinds of reports are published every decade and lay out what the space agency should be focusing on over the next ten years.
And Nasa tends to listen to them pretty consistently – so we could see the space agency shift focus to start probing the cold and gassy world of Uranus in the near future.
An upcoming robotic mission, called the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP), would execute a flyby of the Uranus system and deliver a probe into the ringed gas giant’s atmosphere.
It would be only the second mission ever to visit the distant world. The first was Voyager 2 back in 1986.
‘This recommended portfolio of missions, high-priority research activities, and technology development will produce transformative advances in human knowledge and understanding about the origin and evolution of the solar system, and of life and the habitability of other bodies beyond Earth,’ said Robin Canup, the co-chair of the National Academies’ steering committee.
The report says the Uranus probe mission ‘within the 2023-2032 decade is viable on currently available launch vehicles’.
The planet, lying 1.6 billion miles (at its closest distance) from Earth is an ‘ice giant’, made up of large amounts of icy material swirling around a small rocky core.
Uranus is full of scientific unknowns – like why it does it rotate nearly on its side and how did it develop its complex magnetic field.
Could we even find alien life there?
These questions we won’t know the answer to until Nasa starts to probe deep inside its murky depths.
Good Morning! This is #Random: @NASA has made it a priority to get back to Uranus for some exploration. Who knew? #LearnSomething… pic.twitter.com/ICgZRLTnLS
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