The glacial planet, four times larger than Earth, is the archetype of the new exoplanets discovered by scientists in recent years.
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To Uranus and beyond. An influential panel of scientists from the American Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine calls on NASA to focus its efforts on the seventh planet in the solar system, which has only been explored once, by the probe Traveling in 1986. Scientists assure in this document that a detailed study of Uranus would make it possible to learn a lot about the recently discovered exoplanets, four times larger than the Earth, and covered with ice, like Uranus.
In the previous document published by the same Academy in 2011, several recommendations were followed by the American space agency. Priority was given to the exploration of Mars, and the collection of rocks from the red planet, as well as the sending of a probe to Jupiter and its moon Europa, planned for 2024.
“We think we understand a planet the size of Jupiter, or Earth. But, between the two, there is a category of planets that we do not understand, how it grows to eventually reach the size of Jupiter. A mission towards Uranus could help us there”illustrates Leigh Fletcher, a scientist at the University of Leicester, at the BBC. A window of opportunity exists to reach the glacial planet in “just” 13 years, between 2031 and 2032.