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Surprise: The priority of astronomers is "Uranus", not Mars

Surprise: The priority of astronomers is “Uranus”, not Mars

London – Al-Quds Al-Arabi: A new scientific report blew up a big surprise when it recommended the US space agency to explore the planet “Uranus” and said that priority should be given during the coming years and not others, which could completely change the course of space science and astronomy. Astronomers are preparing to invade Mars and not any other planet.

The report issued by the “National Academy of Sciences” in the United States said that NASA should launch the first mission to the giant “Uranus”, as the main mission of the highest priority in the coming years.
And “Uranus” is the seventh planet in the solar system, and it revolves around the star every 83 Earth years, and it is an “ice giant” with 17 known moons and a temperature of at least 371 degrees Fahrenheit. The only spacecraft to visit the planet was NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1986.
Astronomers and planetary scientists have also invited NASA to visit the frozen moon of Saturn’s Enceladus and look for signs of life there.
Every ten years, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine bring together a group of space experts and ask them to come to a consensus on how NASA should implement its planetary science and defense budgets.
The latest report covers the years 2023 to 2032 and also includes plans already underway, such as returning rocks from Mars and “doing science on the moon.”
The proposals are influential when it comes to obtaining US federal funding for future space missions and guiding NASA’s plans for large-scale projects.
The report describes the planet “Uranus” as “one of the most interesting objects in the solar system” and says that its study will improve our understanding of the ice giants in general.
The group of scientists behind the report says the spacecraft should operate in the system over a number of years, orbiting the ice giant and sending a probe into its atmosphere.
In order to come up with a short list of recommendations, the Steering Committee passed the advice of six committees and hundreds of working papers, speakers and outreach from advisory groups and professional associations.
“This report sets out an ambitious but actionable vision for advancing the frontiers of planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense in the next decade,” said Robin Kanup, of the Southwest Research Institute.
This recommended set of high-priority research tasks and activities and technology development will lead to transformative advances in human knowledge and understanding of the origin and evolution of the solar system and the life and habitability of other extraterrestrial bodies.
The report laid out three high-level scientific themes that cover all the proposed tasks, namely origins, worlds, processes, life, and habitability. Among these questions are 12 priority scientific questions that should be used to guide task selection and research efforts, according to the report’s team.
The second mission in terms of priority, according to the report, is “Enceladus Orbilander”, which is the second highest priority mission identified by the authors of the report, and includes a visit to the sixth largest moon of Saturn.
This mission will look for evidence of extraterrestrial life in a world filled with water – with plumes spewing from the ocean beneath the surface. Evidence of life on Enceladus will also be sought from orbit and during a two-year landing mission that will conduct detailed studies of new plume material that arose from Enceladus’ inner ocean.
For the first time, the report also recommends investing in planetary defense and protecting Earth from incoming asteroids and comets.
The report’s recommendations focus on enhancing the capabilities of near-Earth object detection, tracking and characterization. It also focuses on improving NEO modeling and prediction, information integration, and developing techniques for NEO deflection and disruption missions.
The report says that the highest priority planetary defense demonstration mission should be a rapid response, flight reconnaissance mission targeting near-Earth objects between 160 and 320 feet in diameter. This represents the group of organisms that pose the highest potential for a devastating impact on Earth.
Both Mars and the Moon provide the opportunity to investigate a wide range of priority scientific questions in relatively accessible destinations, the report says.

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