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NASA wants to test deep into Uranus in search of smelly gas



NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past oblong Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, in January 1986.

Uranus's cloudtops on January 24, 1986 at its closest, the spacecraft came within 81,500 kilometers (50,600 miles) of Uranus's cloudtops.

Voyager 2 radioed thousands of images and voluminous amounts of other scientific data on the planet, its moons, rings, atmosphere, interior and surrounding the magnetic environment surrounding Uranus.

A map of the outer solar system

Since launch on August 20, 1977, Voyager 2's itinerary has taken the spacecraft to Jupiter in July 1979 Saturn in August 1981, and then Uranus. Voyager 2's next encounter was with Neptune in August 1989. Both Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, wants to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space.

MORE: Sorry, you've probably heard of the word Uranus wrong your whole life

Voyager 2's images of the five largest moons around Uranus revealed complex surfaces indicative of varying geologic pasts. The cameras thus detected 10 previously unseen moons.

The 11 rings of Uranus, opaque and a few kilometers wide each, are relatively young in space terms – not more than 600 million years old.

Several instruments studied the ring system, uncovering the fine details of the known rings and others

Voyager data showed that the planet's rate of rotation is 17 hours, 14 minutes.

The spacecraft also found a Uranian magnetic field that is both large and unusual. In addition, the temperature of the equatorial region, which receives less sunlight over a Uranian year, is about the same as that at the poles.

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