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Dark spot on Uranus, Another giant planet gets the chicken pox
Guest_Myran_*
post Oct 27 2006, 11:09 PM
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The weather of Uranus gets more interesting when Uranus turns the northen hemisphere towards the Sun.

There was some suggestions that Uranus was in a calm phase when Voyager 2 flew by. Even though the contrast have been enhanced, the image from Hubble suggest that it might very well have been the case.

More info and image at Hubble Site NewsCenter
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RichardLeis
post Oct 28 2006, 08:29 AM
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So little we still do not know about the other planets. Is the dark spot a clearing in the atmosphere or an upwelling of material?
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SigurRosFan
post Oct 28 2006, 02:56 PM
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There's another thread:

- Hubble Discovers Dark Cloud in the Atmosphere of Uranus


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um3k
post Oct 28 2006, 04:30 PM
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When will Uranus realize that as long as it keeps pulling stunts like this it will never stop being the butt of crude, immature jokes?
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nprev
post Oct 28 2006, 05:16 PM
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Well, it's a mature planet; I'm sure that it's put all this foolishness behind it... rolleyes.gif

Still, it sure is interesting how the atmospheric transparency seems to be increasing. We REALLY need a long-lived orbiter there with multispectral optics and a radar "sounder" to monitor these changes. Beginning to wonder what kind of organic chemistry might be going on; the other gas giants do not experience such dynamic, global alterations in atmospheric properties, at least not since we've been able to make detailed observations.


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tasp
post Oct 28 2006, 05:24 PM
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Alex Blackwell posted a while back that he saw a paper that shows a Galileo style orbital tour of the Uranian system is possible.

A long lived orbiter would certainly seem justified for such an interesting planet and family of moons. Imagine zipping past Umbriel at less than 100km altitude . . . .
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David
post Oct 29 2006, 12:12 AM
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QUOTE (tasp @ Oct 28 2006, 05:24 PM) *
Alex Blackwell posted a while back that he saw a paper that shows a Galileo style orbital tour of the Uranian system is possible.

A long lived orbiter would certainly seem justified for such an interesting planet and family of moons. Imagine zipping past Umbriel at less than 100km altitude . . . .


Hurrah, at least I'm not the only person who thinks that. Just one of a very few, alas... huh.gif
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nprev
post Oct 29 2006, 01:53 AM
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Yeah, David, I don't really get why Uranus & Neptune don't get a bit more buzz as far as future missions. They are both unquestionably fascinating places with a lot to tell us about the history of the Solar System, especially given the oddities each possesses (Uranus' axial tilt & Miranda, Triton, etc.)

Anybody have a good reason why U&N are off the radar screen all the time? Is it just the fact that they're quite remote, or could it also be that they are thought of as "twins"?


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karolp
post Oct 29 2006, 12:21 PM
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Being so remote, they will probably be considered when it comes to demonstrating some kind of new propulsion, like nuclear-powered ion engine known from the cancelled project Prometheus. Announcing a "mission to planet Uranus" would make most senators giggle and reaching the planet after a decade is still a major turnoff especially that it already HAS been visited unlike the object formerly known as planet Pluto :-) So I guess a Galileo-like mission is too much of a "re-run" to be considered for funding.

As for the reasons to go there - a few years ago I read a book "Moons of the Outer Planets". The authors were trying to show what could be discovered in the years to come based on the questions raised by Voyager data. They thought Enceladus could prove to be active based on its geomorphology - there you have it. They also considered present geologic activity on ARIEL. So if Ariel is a kind of a larger version of Enceladus, then it is certainly worth going there. But on the other hand many icy bodies seem quite similar to one another and nowadays geysers and underground oceans are even supposed to exitst on Pluto...


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nprev
post Oct 29 2006, 04:20 PM
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Yeah, those all sound plausible, karolp. Still, I'm sure that there are Jupiter-assisted trajectory opportunities at least every 12 years or so, which should make conventional propulsion still a feasible option.

But, selling the mission on its scientific merits indeed might be a challenge. Aside from all the stupid Uranus jokes (okay, I like them, too! smile.gif ), it's true that some in Congress would view it as a rerun because of Voyager 2. It's been done before, though; witness Galileo & Cassini.

Hmm...Maybe, just maybe it could be sold as part of an integrated, progressive outer system exploration strategy, because there are clear precedents. Fly-bys followed by orbiters followed by landers has been the core US UMSF methodology since the beginning. Every universally recognized major planet (I'm not Pluto-hatin', here, just stating a fact) has had at least one fly-by; every planet from Mercury to Saturn has had (or is about to have) at least one orbiter mission. Therefore, it's time to send orbiters to Uranus and Neptune.

Heck, they even have ready-made names: Herschel & LeVerrier, and we can call the Triton lander Lassell. All we need now is a couple of billion bucks... cool.gif Seriously, though, maybe Emily can help out. Any chance that TPS would be interested in lobbying for U&N missions?


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TritonAntares
post Oct 29 2006, 06:12 PM
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Hi,
I once read an article about a possible New Horizons II mission to Uranus (launch in 2008/09),
here 2 illustrations I downloaded from it:
Attached Image

Attached Image


Don't know exactly what happened to this idea?
It has probably been turned down due to funding reasons or the lack of RTGs as propellant material.

I remember Jupiter to be in a useful swing-by-position for Uranus or Neptun only until 2010.
There was an alternative chance to reach Triton in 2023 and a larger KBO in 2029 with a launch in 2012,
without passing Jupiter of course.

Who knows more?

Bye.
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nprev
post Oct 29 2006, 06:43 PM
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Neat...wish it would've happened. sad.gif Way too late now...

Still not an orbiter, though, and I really think it's time to add U&N orbiters (with a Triton lander for the latter) as Flagship missions in the NASA planning queue. Looks like the next favorable launch windows won't open until the 2020s, so now is the time to get things rolling! mad.gif

One nice selling point is that Herschel & LeVerrier could be almost identical, save for the lander support infrastructure on the latter...although if Herschel carried a lander for Ariel or Miranda then they'd be identical all the way. Also, I would be surprised if ESA couldn't be persuaded to participate al a Cassini/Huygens; after all, U&N were European discoveries.

One other quick note: Recommend that the lander(s) utilize a variant of the Pathfinder/MER EDL system sans parachutes; this has been well established as an effective way to safely reach rough terrain, and we have no idea at all how bad the surfaces of U&N's target moons might be...


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TritonAntares
post Oct 29 2006, 10:51 PM
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Some additional informations should be in this thread:
http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=715

Here a presentation:
New Horizons 2 Concept Overview (Feb 2005)

I must read this now... wink.gif
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nprev
post Oct 30 2006, 01:15 AM
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Thanks, TA...well done...I was unaware of this previous thread.

I understand the political undercurrents that ultimately undercut NH2 now. Alan Stern's comment that he was amazed at how many of his colleagues wanted "the ultimate mission" or nothing was revealing...okay, then...Herschel & LeVerrier need to be "ultimate missions"! ohmy.gif

Let's build a wish list. Please flesh out the payload instrumentation based on the following root platforms:

1. Orbiters with multispectral imaging/sounding capabilities (X-band radar through UV).
2. Landers for one each selected moon per planet utilizing a variant of the Pathfinder/MER EDL system.


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tasp
post Oct 30 2006, 02:55 AM
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Perhaps a lander carried on a Uranian orbiter for one of the moons wouldn't have a firm target till after a few close flybys had been made.

Titania, Ariel or Miranda might warrant a close look before commiting the lander to a specific target.
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