The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the United States recommend to NASA, in their ten-year investigation, that their first objectives should be the exploration of Uranus and Enceladus, the moon of Saturn, as well as to bring back rocks from Mars.
Every ten years, academies publish a book with proposals for the improvement of science in the United States. It’s called that for this decade Origins, worlds and life: a ten-year strategy for planetary science and astrobiology.
For scientists, “the next decade of planetary science and astrobiology is tremendously promising. The new research will improve our understanding of the origins of our solar system, how planets form and evolve, in what conditions can life survive and where to find potentially habitable environments in our solar system and beyond ”.
The book highlights key scientific issues, identifies priority missions, and presents a comprehensive research strategy which, in this case, includes both planetary defense and human exploration.
“This report”, underline the experts, “It also recommends ways to support the profession as well as the technologies and infrastructure needed to conduct science.”
NASA’s exploration of Uranus
Academies consider it a thorough study of Uranus it would help better understand similar-sized objects now discovered around other stars.
The seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus, was discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1781. It orbits the magna star every 84 Earth years, its atmosphere is dominated by hydrogen and helium.
Its axis of rotation is almost parallel to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. notes the BBC that “it is as if he had been hit from the side”, so it is speculated that he would have suffered a massive impact with another body at the beginning of his story.
For scientists, many of its moons could be ocean worlds.
Send a probe to Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons
Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, is another suggested destination, because it is believed to have an ocean of water beneath an icy crust.
Academies recommend sending a probe to get there in the early 2050s, land on the surface and look for evidence of life.
“In terms of ocean worlds it is by far the busiest and most easily accessible (candidate)” for exploration, says Philip Christensen of Arizona State University in a conversation with NPR.
Bring the rocks from Mars to Earth
It is also essential for North American academies to recover rocks from Mars. It is the “top scientific priority”.
“The committee strongly supports the return of samples from Mars,” says Christensen. “It’s a concept that has been around for a long time, has great scientific validity and support.”
Other proposals from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine focus on man’s return to the moon and the defense of the Earth.