According to the space agency, Uranus and Neptune are next on NASA’s itinerary, and will no longer be the distant planets that our kind has never explored before. The outermost corners of our solar system will reportedly be investigated and examined by unmanned missions, with probes used to venture into the cold depths.
Twenty five years ago, NASA proposed a mission to Neptune, called Agro, but it was sadly cancelled due to the limited supply of plutonium within the agency’s storage and funds. It was an ambitious task that should have been launched between 2015 and 2020. However, the project was shelved.
Now, during the Outer Planets Assessment Group meeting, the space agency has once again brought up the possibilities of sending probes to both Neptune and Uranus, more specifically with probes that will ascertain both the chemical composition, assess its moons and other critical information about the two mysterious planets.
They have certainly been on NASA’s bucket list for a long time, but budget cuts made it gravely difficult, edging on impossible, to plan a proper exploration. Each mission in part will cost around $2 billion, but there are reportedly ways to cut costs and they will be exploring their options in terms of price, according to Jim Green, head of NASA’s planetary division.
Funds are always the obstacle within the exciting race of hurdling drones or probes across outer space that will allow us a better insight into our own solar system. Technology is advancing, but there is a paramount need for more funds to back it up.
The ambitious missions to explore Neptune and Uranus will certainly not be easy, but are indeed possible, and it will take out of this world designs to enable the out of this world experience. However, it’s not a pipe dream and it may be possible within the next 5 to 15 years if budgets can be trimmed down enough.
Exploring the outer most depths of our solar system will require previously unused probes and it will be an entirely new set of conditions to adjust to for NASA scientists, but it could also provide fascinating and new information about such distant planets that have been so far out of our reach.
NASA’s next big target is Jupiter’s moon, Europe, which is planned on being explored in 2025, and, of course, the colonization of Mars is certainly not an overlooked task. In fact, most efforts are currently surrounding the Red Planet, but it’s the hopes of scientists that neither Uranus nor Neptune missions are too far behind.
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