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Magnetic Field Mystery Solved?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the strange-attractor dept.

Space 28

OneOver137 writes "Researchers at Harvard may have solved a long-standing mystery: Why are the magnetic fields of the outer gas giants, Uranus and Neptune so unique? Further more, could these fields be used to probe the internal structure of other planets like Mercury, a notoriously difficult subject? Maybe this new technique could be used on the Messenger mission?"

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Journey to the center of Uranus (1, Funny)

hords (619030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548770)

If the core is fluids then maybe we will find life in the core of Uranus. Probably some nasty critters too. =)

Seriously though, could the possibility exist? Life within the core of a planet? Probably not, but it could make for a cool sci-fi adventure at least.

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (5, Funny)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548796)

Actually, it could make a really crappy movie [imdb.com] too.

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549842)

How dare you insult such a masterwork of cinema.
You probably think that Predator was bad too.

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (1)

mulufuf (81055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8565529)

Er, i don't believe any life forms were discovered in The Core. Although they bent physics and chemistry beyond the breaking point, biology seems to have been mercifully spared.

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (4, Funny)

Mizery De Aria (554294) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548821)

hrmm, What kind of critters [utah.edu] are in Uranus?

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8554239)

Everybody knows they renamed Uranus to avoid jokes like that.

Please refer to it by it's new name. Urrectum.

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (0)

muzthe42nd (598331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8562950)

Yes, but that's not til the year 2600...

Re:Journey to the center of Uranus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8606209)

Ought to look up the rapid-decay theory of magnatism. It correctly predicts all the planets, explains reversals, explains pretty much everything. Only caveat, the earth has to be under 10,000 years old for it to work. Fortunately there is a significant body of evidence for this as well.

Glad to be a young earther myself, I've studied it extensively, and it works better in my opinion.

Frist Psot! (-1, Offtopic)

pu'u_bear (137654) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548806)

[tinfoil hat]
It's a conspiracy, I tell you. They are trying to cover up the discover of magnetic monopoles. Why? Everybody knows that. The government stole magnetic monopole anti-gravity technology from the aliens in the 60's and knows their experiments can't be hidden if the physicists realize that monopoles really exist!
[/tinfoil hat]

Is there enough sample points? (4, Interesting)

Eevee (535658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548902)

The short blurb on PhysicsWeb said the measurements were all made by Voyager 2. A single pass is, while better than nothing, a rather limited snapsnot of a dynamic system.

Sounds like we need a Voyager 3 and 4 the next time there's a decent slingshot out to them. (Which isn't any time soon.)

Re:Is there enough sample points? (2, Interesting)

tjmsquared (702422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549167)

The NASA trend lately has been to send probes to study just one planet rather than do the solar system tour that we did with Voyager. Since we've already sent such missions to Jupiter and Saturn, maybe Uranus and Neptune are next.

Re:Is there enough sample points? (5, Informative)

snake_dad (311844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549380)

Jupiter [nasa.gov] is next, AFAIK. Don't know of any missions being planned to Neptune or Uranus.

Re:Is there enough sample points? (3, Funny)

wdconinc (704592) | more than 10 years ago | (#8553366)

Not immediately, first to the Moon and Mars :-) We'll see if we have some money/credibility left after that...

Re:Is there enough sample points? (1)

BlueEyes_Austin (738940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8570526)

Some discussion of a Neptune/Triton orbiter. Nothing about a Uranus mission.

Re:Is there enough sample points? (4, Informative)

Eevee (535658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8560936)

I would say that NASA (and everybody else) has always had a single planet focus. Doing a quick scan of the Planetary Exploration Timeline [nasa.gov] at NASA shows two other probes with two planets visited: Pioneer 11 and Mariner 10; a planet and sun combo: Ulysses; and then a sprinkling seven or eight planet and comet or comet and comet probes. All the rest (around 200?) are single target missions. (It's early, my counts may be off.)

The thing about the Voyager missions is there was a window in 1977 where the gas giants would line up for the Grand Tour--where we could use the gravity assist from one planet to get to the next in a reasonable amount of time. Now, this only happens every 175 years, so I doubt I'll be around to see the next Grand Tour mission. So

However, like most grand tours, the Voyager missions did suffer from the "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" [imdb.com] syndrome of taking some pictures and quickly moving on to the next destination. Most of the probes nowadays are more like picking a beach and spending your entire summer vacation there, so you have enough time to become familiar with the locale. (Or, to use the correct terminology, a flyby mission versus an orbiter mission.)

Re:Is there enough sample points? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549735)

As long as we don't have a Voyager 6, all will be fine.

Further field splits with cooling? (5, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549077)

If these two outer gas giants cool further, I wonder if the convecting fluid layer will become thinner and thinner as the core freezes? If so, the magnetic field should split into more and more domains. Ultimately, the remaining thin layer will form a dense pattern of Rayleigh-Benard convection cells [noaa.gov] .

Those small domains will be hard to detect, though. As planet moves to equilibrium and the fluid layer thins and cools, the delta-T driving the convention will weaken. Smaller cells of slower-moving fluid will mean a much weaker magnetic field. Now we only need to wait a few billion years to see if this is what will happen......

"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Flamebait)

nosferatu-man (13652) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549906)

GodDAMNit! When will you APES learn that "unique" refers to one thing? ONE THING. A magnetic field is either "UNIQUE" or "NOT UNIQUE". "So unique" is a solecism on par with "irregardless"or "begs the question". Just STOP it!

'jfb

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Offtopic)

nosferatu-man (13652) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549911)

Jeez. One is infuriated far past the point of being able to proof one's own writing.

Shamefacedly,
'jfb

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Offtopic)

Jerf (17166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550151)

"Begs the question" is a technical term [nizkor.org] , not a solecism [m-w.com] .

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8550268)

You probably wouldn't care if you didn't hear about it on Slashdot. Pipe down.

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8550945)

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Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8551274)

Heh. Good job the writers didn't describe themselves as being "literally blown away" by the idea. I just hope they went through their facts, for all intensive purposes, with a fine toothcomb - though if they did, I'm sure they saw the handwriting on the wall. On the other hand, it could simply be the case that they could care less. ;-)

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8552867)

"For all intents and purposes," jackass

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8559230)

Wow, you corrected that "error" and didn't correct the others. You are clearly the brightest person to ever post to Slashdot ;-)

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (1)

linoleo (718385) | more than 10 years ago | (#8560916)

"unique" refers to one thing

Eggsactly! Unique [unique.ch] is the company managing Zurich airport, and since the term is trademarked, any magnetic field claiming to be "so unique" had better get a license!

PS: "sing of a flaccid mind" is an exhortation, making the subject line ungrammatical.

Re:"so unique" is the sing of a flaccid mind (1)

defabricational (763871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8621664)

it is ever so misfortunate that such past events led your need for disclosure of intent; I would hope that vague mental-cated idearys would easily be commonly justified.

my hopes are with all, and seeming all includes nasa. I think I overshot... ooops.

Ok, I have a question (2, Informative)

BlueEyes_Austin (738940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8570598)

This implies that Neptune and Uranus actually possess a SURFACE that we could put a lander on. How crazy is that!
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