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Astronomers Make the Science Case For a Mission To Neptune and Uranus

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the to-the-stars dept.

Space 134

KentuckyFC writes "The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are Neptune and Uranus. Now European astronomers are planning to put that straight with a mission called Odinus, which involves twin spacecraft making the journey in 2034. Their justification is that the mission will help explain how the Solar System formed, how it ended up in the configuration we see today and may also explain why 'hot' Neptune-class planets are common around other stars. They also have to overcome the common misconception that Neptune and Uranus are just smaller, less interesting versions of Jupiter and Saturn. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a start, Neptune and Uranus and made of entirely different stuff--mostly ices such as water, ammonia and methane compared with hydrogen and helium for Jupiter and Saturn. That raises the question of how they formed and how they got to the distant reaches of the Solar System. However it happened, Uranus ended up lying on its side, probably because of a cataclysmic collision. And Neptune's largest moon Triton orbits in the opposite direction to its parent's rotation, the only moon in the Solar System to do this. How come? Another question still unanswered is who's going to pay for all this. The team are pinning their hopes on the European Space Agency which has already expressed interest. But would an international collaboration be a better option?"

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134 comments

can you se uranus with a telescope? (2, Interesting)

thephydes (727739) | about 5 months ago | (#46268735)

Yes if you get the lenses right.

Re:can you se uranus with a telescope? (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 months ago | (#46268995)

Hell, you can see it with a mirror

Re:can you se uranus with a telescope? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 5 months ago | (#46269079)

Well, the good ones use prisms.

Re:can you se uranus with a telescope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269119)

Just not in prison..

Re:can you see uranus with a telescope? (2)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 5 months ago | (#46270901)

Just not in prison..

There's nothing as nice as surprise wakeup sex.

Unless you're in prison.

Gayest sentence of the day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268737)

"The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are Neptune and Uranus"

lol. "bespoke". What a homo

Cut food stamps; send useless probes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268769)

As we mortgage our children's future, cut taxes for billionaires and corporations, just where in the holy hell do they think we'll get the money to do this? They need to stop eye fucking the US treasury like it's their own playground and keep coming up with more 'scientific' projects to ensure their careers. Fuckers.

Uh... no. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268817)

Space research represents very little of our national budget about 0.48%. I think the random acts of violent aggression in the world has cost us far more, and continues to do so.

Re:Uh... no. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46268845)

The choices of who to invade not random. Thought the consequences almost always are.

Re:Uh... no. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268891)

Fucking liberals. "Oh, it's only half a percent of the budget."

Go to hell. You and your, "Oh, it's just a fraction.". "Oh, it's really not a whole lot."

Always preceded by the passive-agressive, faggoty, "Uh... no".

Add up all those fractions and suddenly, it adds up to:

Fuck you. Fuck you very much.

Re:Uh... no. (1, Informative)

barakn (641218) | about 5 months ago | (#46269001)

Since this is a EUROPEAN proposal, you come off as another under-educated conservative shooting his mouth off without having all the facts.

Re:Uh... no. (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46269089)

And they're suggesting INTERNATIONAL collaboration, which could very well include the US as we've had the most experience with missions of this type.

Re:Uh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269133)

And they're suggesting INTERNATIONAL collaboration, which could very well include the US as we've had the most experience with missions of this type.

You get that Europe is not a nation, right? Right there it's already international.

Re:Uh... no. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46269245)

Go read the summary again and realize how stupid what you just said is. No, Europe is a not a single nation but in the context of the article, it's pretty obvious they mean nations that are not part of the ESA - the major candidates being the US, Russia, Japan, China, India and Israel.

Re:Uh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269385)

Go read the summary again and realize how stupid what you just said is. No, Europe is a not a single nation but in the context of the article, it's pretty obvious they mean nations that are not part of the ESA - the major candidates being the US, Russia, Japan, China, India and Israel.

You're thinking that a Slashdot summary is classic literature? Oh dear. I believe the point is that the summary is written poorly too.

Re:Uh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269433)

You're thinking that a Slashdot summary is classic literature? Oh dear. I believe the point is that the summary is written poorly too.

When all the people that hate Beta leave Slashdot, all that's left are the people that love Beta.

Re:Uh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269555)

You're thinking that a Slashdot summary is classic literature? Oh dear. I believe the point is that the summary is written poorly too.

When all the people that hate Beta leave Slashdot, all that's left are the people that love Beta.

Dont forget all the people who found the blatantly obvious "opt out of beta" setting.

Re:Uh... no. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270529)

I think you mean, all that's left are the people who aren't whiny little bitches

Re:Uh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270399)

Go read the summary again and realize how stupid what you just said is.

Really? "Stupid"...? Pedantic, perhaps. Stupid, no.

Re:Uh... no. (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46269091)

Actually European countries invaded each other like 50 times each so it's not far off. America aka England took over the US by fraud, disease, and dishonest contracts not by crossing the border with guns or swords and shields and just saying "I'm taking over your country."

Re:Uh... no. (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 5 months ago | (#46269187)

Which mostly happened generations upon generations ago; there isn't a soul alive today who is evenly tenuously connected with the European colonisation of America. There hasn't been a major European war since WW2, and there hasn't been much in the way of colonial aggression since the Suez. Every European empire has now been completely wound down.

I like to think that we've well and truly learnt our lesson about those sorts of shenanigans.

Re:Uh... no. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46268915)

Space research represents very little of our national budget about 0.48%

As opposed to what many Americans think. ;-) [discovermagazine.com]

Re:Uh... no. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46269103)

"When NASA loses a $150 million probe, that’s a lot of real money, but hardly a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend as a nation"

Especially when you compare it to the cost of a single military jet... and the space probes tend to last a lot longer between maintenance check-ups.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46268825)

I'm opposed to food stamp cuts, but there are orders of magnitude difference in the costs here. NASA is incredibly cheap, as far as national programs are concerned, and years of budget cuts there haven't done anyone any good. I'd be willing to wager a fair amount that satellite imaging, communication, weather monitoring, and mapping have done more good with respect to helping starving people than the equivalent amount spent directly on food would have.

Did we have any idea of the possible benefits the space race would yield when we started it? I doubt it. Scientific knowledge doesn't go away when you acquire it, and it's literally impossible to say what utility this research could have.

Now... if you want to talk about the value of corporate crop subsidies versus food stamps, then we can be talking the same ballpark for prices and relative human cost.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268993)

You are using a very deceptive tactic here; the technology required to send probes to Uranus and Neptune exist today. There is no new development required, no technology spinoffs into the private sector. This is about the gathering of knowledge purely for the sake of science. If we obtain some insights about how Uranus and Neptune wound up where they are, how they are, there is not going to be a bunch of startups in Cambridge MA cranking out new wonder devices based on this knowledge.

More data for AGW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269185)

Regarding Global Warming, that whole idea came from our exploration of Venus - ONE planet.

Quite possibly by exploring other planets and moons, climate theory may have to be adjusted based on new data and evidence - it may be detrimental to the AGW folks.

In other words, the exploration of other planets may just blow the AGW liberals out of the water.

Science, on occasion, spanks the liberals too.

-Just say'in.

Re:More data for AGW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270509)

do some reading on how the mechanism of the greenhouse effect works. And test it out there are video's on Youtube explaining how.
Go fetch a nobel if you get other results.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269347)

You are using a very deceptive tactic here; the technology required to send probes to Uranus and Neptune exist today. There is no new development required, no technology spinoffs into the private sector.

If they were just going to go photocopy the mechanical drawings for the voyager probes and send them to a machine shop, you would be right. But since sending the probe to the destination is a large fraction of the cost, space agencies would rather pay extra to make sure the equipment on the probe is maximizing the gains from that fixed cost, and will used improved versions of what was done before, develop new detectors and equipment as needed, and testbed some ideas that haven't been done before.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (1)

ubergeek2009 (1475007) | about 5 months ago | (#46269619)

Agreed. I work in a lab developing equipment for the calibration of sensors on earth monitoring satellites. There is active research going on even for space vehicles close to home and it is difficult to tell where else this research will be of use.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (4, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | about 5 months ago | (#46269629)

I stopped reading your post right here.

This is about the gathering of knowledge purely for the sake of science.

That seems like a good enough reason as any.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46269005)

Hear hear. Let's completely eliminate half the crop subsidies, and transfer the other half to foodstamps to eliminate any economic hardships that may cause. We can then start cutting food stamps after we've eliminated the massive corporate fossil fuel subsidies. (What do you suppose complete legal immunity to the consequences of your fracking is worth in insurance dollars saved?)

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (2)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46268945)

Speaking as a person who actually has children, I welcome deep space exploration. Just because basic research has no immediate applications doesn't mean that it is useless. When it comes to the pursuit of knowledge, a nation should look beyond immediate economic returns. The expansion of the sphere of economically useful scientific knowledge is dependent on the expansion of knowledge per se.

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (4, Informative)

barakn (641218) | about 5 months ago | (#46269101)

Since this is a EUROPEAN proposal, it is apparent that you did not RTFA.

Star Fleet or Feringhi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269293)

It's up to you. What future do you want: A future where we're like Star Fleet o r a future where we 're like the Feringhi?

For non-Strar Trek fans: are we going to be a profit only type of people, or a people who develops culture and science. Because I'd like to point out that the latter is a sign of a healthy society. The former of a Third World shithole.

Frankly, it looks like the US - the people who sent men to the Moon with the help of Nazis - is spiraling down to a bunch of shallow, take what we can and fuck everyone else, dog eat dog animals, everyone is out to get us; little pathetic people - more like bald apes.

A society to be held in contempt for its shallow pursuit of mindless stuff. A society where archeologists will dig up and say, "Here's were man started his downfall"

Fuck science! I want my 5.0L V8 manly pickup truck, my guns, cable with my sports package at $200/month and my Bible! Yee Haw!

Re:Cut food stamps; send useless probes (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 5 months ago | (#46269579)

Because scientific knowledge and discovery has NEVER EVEN ONCE resulted in better economies, new products, innovation and applied science in commercial products, or advances in the general state of manufacturing arts.

There's no better investment of government money.

Things Not To Name This Mission's Spacecrafts (1)

Guy From V (1453391) | about 5 months ago | (#46268771)

#1 The Event Horizon...

Obligatory Humor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268793)

I guess that means that any opposition to probing Uranus would be considered homophobic, bigoted and FundaMENTALly Christian.

Re:Obligatory Humor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269337)

You know, I'm sick and tired of these Uranus/your anus jokes.

I can't wait until the glorious future when they put a stop to this crap and change the name of the planet to Urectum.

Re:Obligatory Humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269973)

Only 606 more years to go!

A Case for the Moon? (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#46268799)

Why wouldn't putting a self sustaining outpost on the moon be more worthy? Our knowledge of how to survive in space would increase exponetially.

We're just not there yet (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#46268899)

Why wouldn't putting a self sustaining outpost on the moon be more worthy?

It's not really a question of it being worthy. It's a question of it being super expensive and the fact that we don't really have all the technology we need to do it yet. Most notably we don't really have adequate radiation shielding for a moon base for manned missions, nor do we have the infrastructure in place to supply such a base. Not saying we shouldn't do it but that is mission that is orders of magnitude more expensive and difficult.

A robotic spacecraft being sent to the outer planets is something we know how to do and the price is comparatively modest. We can do that mission with existing technology. A moon base requires development of a lot of stuff we don't have yet even if it isn't manned.

Re:We're just not there yet (4, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46269075)

We don't really need radiation shielding (not that it's hard to devise radiation shielding in the first place; it's called "lead"). All we have to do is tunnel below the Moon's surface. We already do this here on Earth for some scientific experiments that require low radiation (like neutrino detectors). Even better, it's hypothesized that there's already underground tunnels on the Moon, left over from its formation.

So, we have most of the technology we need; we just need to send a bunch of excavation equipment up there (modified to work with electric motors and batteries, of course, since we'll need to power it using solar power, unless we can find some other energy source on the Moon's surface, such as He3). Obviously, this isn't a cheap proposal, but the idea that we need to develop some kind of Star Trek shielding technology is flatly wrong; we have all the technology now, we just don't have the money or the political will to deploy it there.

Re:We're just not there yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269261)

unless we can find some other energy source on the Moon's surface, such as He3).

How on earth.. er.. How in the world... Er... What kind of energy source are you imaging that uses He3? Last I looked, Nobie gases don't react with anything.

OH, you are talking about Fusion fuel.... As the story from last week shows, we are a LONG way from viable fusion energy sources (good thing too, cause the sun needs to be kept at a distance) We are even further from being able to land the stuff to do this on the moon.

Re:We're just not there yet (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46269321)

Yes, I realize we're a probably a long way from fusion, that bit was a bit out there. However, other sources of energy are readily available on the Moon, most notably solar power (as a bonus, there's no annoying atmosphere to scatter or attenuate it). Obviously, we'd need a huge amount of PV panels to power excavation equipment, but the technology is all there.

The main bit of technology that we'd really need to develop, before anything else, is the ability to set up manufacturing sites on the Moon, and to mine and refine ores on the Moon and use them for manufacturing there, rather than having to lift everything from the Earth's surface. TBMs for instance are huge, heavy pieces of equipment, but if we can product them on the Moon (mostly), rather than lifting all that iron from Earth, it makes the whole venture far more feasible.

Tunnel boring on the moon is hard (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#46269277)

All we have to do is tunnel below the Moon's surface.

Oh is that all? An pray tell, where can I get one of these robotic tunnel borers on the moon? You're talking about getting a HUGE piece of equipment to the moon which has to operate remotely, reliably and requires virtually no servicing. We don't have tunnel boring machines that fit that description here on Earth, much less ones that can operate on the moon. You can't really just hand wave this problem away. Excavating machines are necessarily very heavy and thus extremely expensive with current tech (chemical rockets) to get to the moon. You're likely talking multiple launches of Atlas V class rockets which deliver the machines with pinpoint accuracy to the moon which then somehow have to be put together. And it isn't just the machine to do the tunnel boring, you need structural materials to support the excavation and all the other building materials for the base. I'm not saying it cannot be done, but what I am saying is that it is a VERY challenging and expensive problem for which we do not presently have the technology.

Even better, it's hypothesized that there's already underground tunnels on the Moon, left over from its formation.

So we're going to rely on hypothetical tunnels to shield us from radiation? Great plan...

Re:Tunnel boring on the moon is hard (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46269403)

An pray tell, where can I get one of these robotic tunnel borers on the moon? You're talking about getting a HUGE piece of equipment to the moon which has to operate remotely,

Hey, I never said it'd be cheap, just that the technology mostly exists. We have excavating machines, we have the technology to operate things remotely....

Besides, we don't necessarily need to operate all this stuff remotely. We should be able to set up a very small habitat for a small crew to man, and have them operate the equipment on-site until they can build bigger and better more-permanent habitats.

And it isn't just the machine to do the tunnel boring, you need structural materials to support the excavation and all the other building materials for the base.

A better plan is for us to figure out how to jump-start mining, refining, and manufacturing operations on-site, so we don't need to transport all this stuff from the Earth.

So we're going to rely on hypothetical tunnels to shield us from radiation? Great plan...

Along with mining and manufacturing on the Moon, this too requires something called "exploration": we need to actually send probes, or maybe more manned missions, to the Moon to learn more about it to figure out what can and can't be done there, and how. We're not going to find out whether these hypothetical tunnels exist or not by sitting on our asses here. At least the Chinese are putting an effort in to explore the Moon further; we certainly aren't. I'm not advocating sending a bunch of TBMs to the Moon next week, I'm just saying most of the tech is already there, it just needs to be adapted some, and we need to figure out how to build it using materials on the Moon.

Re:We're just not there yet (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 5 months ago | (#46269597)

I think we've all had about enough of the false dichotomy of "well, this is super-expensive and the only way to justify any endeavor is for it to be cheap."

Great accomplishments are never cheap.

Re:A Case for the Moon? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46269127)

Well, I can think of two reasons. First, establishing a self-sustaining outpost on the Moon would cost a lot more money than an unmanned Uranus probe. Secondly, a self-sustaining Moon colony isn't basic research, it's *engineering* research and has to be judged by different standards than pure research. One of those standards is economic feasibility.

It's not at all clear that an *economically* self-sustaining manned outpost on the Moon is feasible with the level of technology immediately available to us. Given the added cost of man-rating a Moon outpost, it's likely that anything we could do with a manned outpost could be accomplished cheaper robotically. The research into human adaptability to space could likewise be more cheaply achieved in Earth orbit.

Without unlimited funding, the shortest practical path to landing humans on Mars and manned expeditions to the outer solar system may well start with robotic probes. Even the Moon landing was preceded by unmanned lunar probes like Luna, Ranger and Surveyor, and the case for unmanned vs. manned gets stronger the further a mission has to go. Manned exploration beyond where our species as yet gone is going to require moving a lot of extraneous mass to support the crew, and that is almost certainly going to involve basic advances in generating thrust efficiently. Those likely won't be man-ratable until there's been an un-manned exploration program much larger than any currently being contemplated.

You put those factors together and what you've got to do to advanced manned space exploration beyond the Moon is orbital manned missions with robotic exploration of the Solar System.

Re:A Case for the Moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269627)

I vote for more manned missions to set up a base like an Antarctic research station...maybe it doesn't have to be permanently manned and maybe there could be more than one.

Neil Armstrong thought it could be done in the 1970's...just saying...

Re:A Case for the Moon? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46270155)

There's no question that it *can* be done. It's a question of opportunity costs. If we build a manned Moon outpost, what gets cut to make room in the space exploration budget?

My argument is that in the not-so-long term the cause of manned space exploration is better served by a phase of robotic deep space exploration and manned orbital missions.

Re:A Case for the Moon? (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46269231)

No it wouldn't. Our knowledge on how to colonize inhospitable planets would increase significantly, but very little of that translates to the challenges of surviving in space where you have to deal with microgravity and hard radiation. Basically almost everything learned colonizing the moon (except stuff about to the moon itself) could also be learned from underground bases on Earth. (And if you're colonizing the moon and putting your outposts on the surface I can only assume you were dropped on your head way too many times as a child. A few yards of rock make pretty much all of your radiation and extreme thermal fluctuation problems go away)

A lunar outpost doesn't really make much sense unless you're mining and refining rocket fuel for missions to the other planets and/or are seeking to establish a long-term military presence. As an added bonus several of the mass driver or skyhook options you would want for getting fuel into space efficiently can easily double as powerful kinetic-energy weapons

And thanks to the Moon's low mass, lack of substantial atmosphere, and considerable orbital velocity, you can make an awesomely powerful lunar tumbling skyhook that's only a few hundred kilometers long, can be made without exotic materials, and is capable of picking things up directly from the lunar surface and throwing them on transfer orbits beyond either Venus or Mars without ever subjecting them to accelerations over 1/4G

Re:A Case for the Moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269803)

On the one hand, I can see the appeal of a self-sustaining base on the moon. On the other hand, it appears pretty useless to me by itself. If anything, such a base could serve as a prototype for bases/colonies on other planets or moons, and with the means of transportation currently available, that seems at least another human lifetime away.

Sending a robotic spacecraft to the outer Solar system does not require any revolutionary technological breakthroughs and could yield results within a couple of years (let's say five years for building the spacecraft and another - what? five? seven? - to get there).

I am not saying that a manned base on the moon would not be super cool, and we can and should start the research required for that right away, but a) a base on the moon is still decades away, even under the best circumstances, and b) a moon base and a mission to explore the ice giants are two very different goals that are not mutually exclusive, except for the money part; but if we - mankind in general - spent only five percent of what we spend on killing each other on space exploration, we could achieve some pretty amazing things. (I do not see that happen in the foreseeable future, just saying...)

More obligatory humor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268813)

Uranus probe detects 3-methyl-indole in brown clouds in atmosphere.

Re:More obligatory humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269307)

Uranus probe detects 3-methyl-indole in brown clouds in atmosphere.

Don't give up your day job, that joke stinks...

Re:More obligatory humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270041)

I agree, it's pretty shitty.

Re:More obligatory humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270815)

I don't know about that. I thought it was raspberry scented myself.

Here we go... (0)

stalky14 (574130) | about 5 months ago | (#46268819)

Let the "Uranus" wisecracks commence.

Re:Here we go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269149)

You got six points for using "cracks" in context with uranus-jokes....

No, the cat doesn't "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#46268849)

> Another question still unanswered is who's going to pay for all this.

You may divert my taxes to this instead of (everything else).

NO!!! Don't jack up tax rates!

NO!!! Don't borrow more money!

Ya know what, nevermind.

Re:No, the cat doesn't "got my tongue." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268971)

If the US moved to a VAT, then sure. It is a lot harder to hide a Maybach than it is to hide income in some Anguillan bank account. At least there would be some fair taxation going on.

Re:No, the cat doesn't "got my tongue." (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 months ago | (#46269111)

I hate to say this, but it needs to be hammered home for all to understand.

Our taxes go to pay the interest on the debt the government owes to other countries and the Federal Reserve Bank. Fortunately, the interest rates at the Fed are extremely low. Unfortunately, I doubt the government has any inclination to pay the debt down... not when there's a hungry military industrial complex to feed.

To presume that your tax dollars actually go to anything directly, let alone good or useful indicates that one's understanding of how money flows in the US today needs to be updated since the 1950's or before. The money supply is endless because the debt is endless. It's surprising to me that the world is only now beginning to catch on.

The cosmic radiation exposure issue was solved? (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 5 months ago | (#46268893)

I had not heard about that.

Re:The cosmic radiation exposure issue was solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46268957)

It's not a manned mission.

Re:The cosmic radiation exposure issue was solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270401)

Too bad, radiation problem is single most deadly reason why manned flight will be rare thing beyond the orbit of the Earth.

already had mission with them as subjects (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#46268967)

Voyager 2 went to Uranus system in 1986 and Neptune in 1989

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269049)

Yeah, but those missions were not "bespoke". Duh!

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#46269157)

yeah, how dare NASA go all cheap-ass and use convenient alignment of planets to visit, photograph and measure all the gas giants in one swoop, and even after that to amass enough gall to turn it into interstellar mission!

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269085)

Yeah, but they weren't 'bespoke'. I wasn't going to bring this up, but neither is the $17 sports shirt I'm wearing which I got from Kohl's.

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 months ago | (#46269377)

The Voyager probes did a fly-by of the planets. I believe the idea here is to put the probe into orbit rather than just flying by and have a longer term mission.

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270419)

The Voyager probes did a fly-by of the planets. I believe the idea here is to put the probe into orbit rather than just flying by and have a longer term mission.

Exactly, they want to do something like Cassini and Galileo just with Uranus and Neptune.

Re:already had mission with them as subjects (3, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 months ago | (#46269461)

Voyager just flew by the planets. A mission specifically to them would see a probe orbiting them for a while to study the planets and moons in depth.

And they've fucked everything (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about 5 months ago | (#46268975)

I remember reading somewhere that massive as they are they could not had been formed so far from the sun. But when they moved to the distant reaches of the solar system they did a real fucking mess that caused massive collisions that hit Venus, Mars and the Earth. In the Earth case it was the event that created the moon but Mars and Venus were smaller and didn't had the same luck. This could be the reason of Venus' retrograde orbit and the impact that created Mars' Valis Marinelis. Such an event could also have destroyed the convection mechanism of the nucleus that creates the magnetic field and extinguished the water on those planets to evaporate.

The fact that such planets are normally found near extrasolar stars is interesting. It kinda tells us that the solar system as we know has been shaped by their migration. IANAA and I don't have a source for that so feel free to correct me. Its just amazing how everything related to the solar system formation is connected to those 2 big god damn fuckers.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46269081)

Venus is about 90% of the mass of Earth; it's practically a sister planet.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 5 months ago | (#46269541)

It's quite possible Venus gained a moon from an impact as well, but the orbit decayed.

Re:And they've fucked everything (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 months ago | (#46269093)

This is all leading up to a "Fuck Uranus" joke, right?

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#46269155)

Sounds to me like a somewhat garbled rendering of Velikovsky's crackpot theories. Venus, incidentally, does not have a retrograde orbit; it orbits the Sun in the same direction as every other planet. It does have a retrograde *rotation*: unlike the other planets, it rotates in the oppposite direction from its orbit.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about 5 months ago | (#46270315)

I don't really know who Velikovsky is and sorry about the wrong term. The thing is that a lot of chaotic stuff happened during the same period of the solar system formation.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about 5 months ago | (#46270467)

Oh wait. What I was trying to say its not related at all with this guy's theories. I was trying to say that something hit Venus and set it into the retrograde rotation during the same period Mars and Earth were hit by other bodies.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269171)

The fact that such planets are normally found near extrasolar stars is interesting.

It tells us that with our present technology, large exoplanets orbiting very close to their host stars are, by many orders of magnitude, easier to detect?

Re:And they've fucked everything (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46269207)

I believe that, with current tech, it's also easier to find A) larger planets and B) planets closer to stars. If you had a system identical to Earth some distance away, it would be much more difficult to detect our planets than the ones we've discovered thus far elsewhere. We're still learning a lot about planet creation and it may just be that large planets closer to their stars are easier to find and that's skewing our models. Or it could very well be our models are correct and the easier-to-locate planets are also the more common planets.

Re:And they've fucked everything (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about 5 months ago | (#46270279)

Makes a lot of sense. But its not just a technological limitation. If you think about how stars and planetary systems are formed within the nebula it is unlikely that large planets like Neptune and Uranus can born so far from the host stars.

Always count on Slashdot (0)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 months ago | (#46269059)

At the very mention of Uranus, anal and probe jokes/comments will abound. I can't say I wasn't tempted to do the same, but that planet is already the butt of too many pokes... err jokes.

Re:Always count on Slashdot (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about 5 months ago | (#46269197)

Perhaps the reason that we have never sent a dedicated mission to Uranus is that the scientific benefits would not outweigh the social harm caused by the puns that would be sure to follow.

Oblig (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 5 months ago | (#46269063)

Because their horoscope told them.

This is a great idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269071)

We in the US will get right on that... after maintaining our nuclear arsenal, building a few squadrons of unneeded bombers, a few aircraft carriers, perhaps a new attack sub, and building a giant spying apparatus of unprecedented size and scope.

Re:This is a great idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269335)

Well, the Democrats need to deal with the Tea Party you know... Just in case the IRS wasn't enough.

Yes, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269233)

It's about time we take a closer look at Uranus and Neptune! From what we know already, they are at least as interesting as Jupiter and Saturn and WAY more fascinating than any of the rocky planets (Mars is, like, so 1990s).
If nothing else, a mission to visit the ice giants should make for some /really/ pretty pictures, but scientifically, such a mission should be very rewarding, too.
As far as the money goes - and I will not even touch on the insanely bloated US military budget - I have been wondering for a while now why in astronomy so many countries seem to prefer doing their own thing instead of pooling their resources. If one could get China, the EU, India, Japan, Russia, and the USA to cooperate on such a mission, it should not be a problem.
I only hope, if such a mission gets on the road, that it will be a Galileo/Cassini-style long-term mission rather than the hasty fly-by New Horizons is going to do.

Re:Yes, please! (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 5 months ago | (#46269595)

The problem with pooling resources if you have to pool bureaucrats and sources in the process. If you think it's bad for NASA having to build parts in various congressional districts to create jobs and being subject to the whims of each new congress, try adding 5 more countries worth of complication and your project will likely drown in red tape no matter how much money you throw at it.

Re:Yes, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269865)

:( You are right, I guess. Now that I think of it, the EU has been working on a non-US-dependent alternative to GPS for years now (to be called Galileo), and the project seems to be going nowhere.
On the other hand, there are cases of successful cooperation, the ISS comes to mind, and I think there was some mission to the inner Solar system, Venus or Mercury, a couple of years back where NASA and ESA cooperated. In other areas, there are scientific cooperations that are very successful, just think of CERN.
So I will not give up hope entirely, but for the foreseeable future, I agree with you.

"Bespoke" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269399)

The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are

Am I misunderstanding the definition of "bespoke" and its application within sentences? I've noted that the usage of this word has increased in recent years, however, it has seemed to be misapplied in the context in which it is used. Most definitions use the word to describe clothing made or tailored to a persons specification...

Atmosphere. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46269437)

"For a start, Neptune and Uranus and made of entirely different stuff--mostly ices such as water, ammonia and methane compared with hydrogen and helium for Jupiter and Saturn."

Huh? The composition of Neptune's atmosphere is about 90% hydrogen and 19% helium. Sure, there's ices in there, but "entirely different" and "mostly"? No.

Re:Atmosphere. (2)

bunratty (545641) | about 5 months ago | (#46269705)

The composition of Earth's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen and oxygen, but the composition of the Earth is entirely different.

2034? Really? (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 5 months ago | (#46269467)

Twenty years to wait? Whatever technology is used for the probe and its sensors is going to be technologically obsolete countless times over by 2034. Honestly if you can't drum up funding for this and get it built and launced inside of five years shouldn't you just hang it up?

Re:2034? Really? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46269965)

That is true with any planetary mission to the outer planets.
If you can get any funding at all for it, I say take what you got and run for it. There are too many people with a silly view that if we spend billions of dollars for a space mission all that money will get launched into space...
Not realizing that we are not launching the money into space, but paying for engineers and scientists and staff to make such a mission successful, then they will buy stuff and it will go back into the economy.

Hehe, you said... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 5 months ago | (#46269551)

(...)

Yes (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 5 months ago | (#46269567)

The best option would be an American mission. That way American scientists and engineers and citizens can combine their efforts to accomplish something together. Who knows? It might even create a job or two.

And if the European Space Agency wants to launch a mission, they are welcome to do so.

Better way to spend money... (1)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about 5 months ago | (#46269661)

Here's an idea: instead of spending all this money now to launch probes from Earth, why not spend it instead on building a base with launch infrastructure on the Moon? No atmosphere, no environment to worry about, lesser gravity well...the list of advantages is quite large. The only disadvantage is it would take a while to get going. But the same could be said for the space industry 50 years ago. So we could spend a lot of money on a lunar base now and get huge payoffs later, or keep spending almost as much on Earth-launched probes for the next several decades and advance the human presence in space not one whit.

NASA still hasn't figured this out. The public is not *interested* in these pure science missions, regardless of how beneficial they are to scientists and engineers. The public wants the glory, grandeur, and *adventure* of Apollo. And without public backing, NASA's budget gets whacked again and again and again. NASA needs to come up with things that capture the public's imagination like the glory days of the 1960's. Then they'll get the money and political clout to do big things. I'm sure most American's don't give two damns about a mission to Uranus or Neptune.

Re:Better way to spend money... (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46269811)

lesser gravity well.

I'm always confused by that statement. Maybe, if you could mine and manufacture what was needed for a mission you could save something. But that would take a massive infrastructure on the Moon. Without it you're stuck launching from Earth, landing on the Moon, then launching from the Moon.

Manned space exploration is no longer necessary. An unmanned mission can do anything a manned mission can do.

ESA isn't International? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 5 months ago | (#46270159)

The team are pinning their hopes on the European Space Agency which has already expressed interest. But would an international collaboration be a better option?

Isn't the ESA international by nature? Perhaps the submitter meant to ask about a joint venture with other space agencies, but the EU itself, as well as the ESA, are both already international entities.

Expedition to the end of the Solar Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46270425)

It would be interesting, I would hope they could build a robotic vessel verse a small bus size space problem with limited life span.
Having a ship that has better sensors, labs, the ability to deploy disposable probes or landers. Be able guide this thing back to earth to refit, that would make things more interesting.

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