Let's Probe Uranus
A working group of scientists involved with outer solar system research met recently at a NASA-sponsored meeting to initiate the first steps along the road towards launching a Uranus Orbiter
With a +European Space Agency, ESA
mission concept already in a design phase, scientists at +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
will now begin drawing up their plans for a mission in the mid 21st century. A study will be made of options, instruments, costs, rockets etc.. and a mission proposal will be discussed as part of the NASA Decadel Survey in 2020.http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/08/25/uranus-neptune-in-nasas-sights-for-new-robotic-mission/
Ancient observers of the night sky had no way of knowing that the dim dot they believed a distant star, was the seventh planet from the Sun.
On March 13th 1781 William Herschel made the first ever discovery of a planet using a telescope.
There have been some excellent observations of Uranus in recent years. The +Hubble Space Telescope
has shown us aurora appearing in the same plane as the equatorial rings, Astronomers at +W. M. Keck Observatory
have imaged infrared bright storms with 500 mph winds.
However, the best images we have of Uranus, its rings and the largest moons, come from the ten minutes of Voyager 2's closest approach in January 1986. Rather like the +NASA New Horizons
fly-by of Pluto nearly 30 years later, Voyager zoomed past on a one-way trip out of the solar system. Uranus, and Neptune are the two planetary bodies yet to be orbited by a robotic spacecraft.
Image Credit : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Voyager.
Space Telescope Science Institute.
W M Keck Observatory.