Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. It is four planets further away than Earth. However, from Earth, the distance is approximately 1.98 billion miles at their furthest. At their closest, the two planets are about 1.6 billion miles apart.
Looking at Uranus’s Orbit
The distance between the two planets fluctuates because both are in orbit and constantly moving. It takes about 84 Earth years for Uranus to go around the sun. It travels using an elliptical orbit. Uranus is about 1.79 billion miles from the sun at its closest and 1.89 billion miles at its farthest. With such a long orbit, it is trickier to visit this planet compared to those, such as Venus and Mars. It could take a century for the conditions to be ideal for travel. One spacecraft has made the trip and this was in January of 1986 when it made a pass by the planet.
Cool Facts About Uranus
Uranus has an icy composition and considering all of the planets in the solar system, it has the coldest atmosphere. You cannot just see this planet with the naked eye. You will need to have a telescope and it was actually the first planet that was discovered using a telescope. This discovery happened in 1781 and Sir William Herschel is credited with this discovery. The temperature on this planet is cold due to its distance from the sun. In fact, it can get as cold as negative 371 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uranus is a planet that still needs a lot of research. Its distance from Earth makes it a bit harder to learn about. However, with increases in technology and scientific thinking, even 1.98 billion miles is not able to stop scientists from learning more about this planet and resolving some of the mystery.
Uranus is on the opposite end of the solar system than Earth and it is the seventh planet from the sun. In the solar system, this planet is considered to have the fourth largest planetary mass and the third largest planetary radius. Compared to Neptune, this planet’s composition is similar. However, one major difference between the two planets is the number of moons that each has.
How Many Moons Does Uranus Have?
As of today, scientists have discovered a total of 27 moons on Uranus. 22 of the moons are relatively small in size, while five are considered to be quite large. The diameter for Titania is approximately 981 miles. However, the smallest moon that has been discovered so far is known as Cupid and its diameter is just 11 miles. All of the moons of this planet got their names from William Shakespeare plays. Of all of the moons associated with Uranus, the brightest is Ariel. This moon has a lot of craters like Titania, but it is also largely comprised of valleys and canyons. The darkest moon is Umbriel.
What is the Largest Moon on Uranus?
The biggest of the moons on Uranus is called Titania. The other four moons that are larger include Miranda, Umbriel, Oberon and Ariel. Titania is covered in small craters, but there are some bigger ones too that can be found on the surface. Another characteristic of this moon is very rough rocks. In January of 1787, Willian Herschel looked to the sky and discovered this moon. He is also credited with being the astronomer who discovered Uranus in 1781.
Learning more about the individual moons is interesting, especially since there is a chance that additional ones could be discovered in the future.
Space travel has always been intriguing to mankind. Exploring other planets is not just fascinating it is becoming more of a reality due to the sophistication of research in reaching far off planets. One of those captivating distant planets is Uranus. Uranus and Neptune are known as the ice giants and are Earth’s outermost planets in our solar system. Reaching Uranus from Earth takes time and must be attempted when planets are aligned correctly to achieve a successful mission. Ah, yes, all jokes aside, travelling to Uranus is a lengthy voyage.
How Long Does It Take To Get To Uranus?
How long would it take to travel to the planet Uranus? Although at night it is visible to the naked eye, Uranus is actually further than you may think at 2.6 billion kilometers from Earth. NASA’s Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to come close to Uranus. It took almost a decade to reach Uranus, approaching the planet on January 24, 1986, after its launch date on August 20, 1977.
How far is Uranus from Earth?
To accurately answer how far Uranus is from Earth, you have to take into consideration the path that would be taken to reach the planet Uranus. First, though bear in mind that the mission by Voyager 2 in the late 1970s was planned and timed to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment that happens every 175 years. Calculating the distance and how long it would take to get to Uranus from Earth would depend on the type and speed of travel plus where the planets were in their orbits when the mission was launched. Earth and Uranus are orbiting the sun; therefore the distance between the planets can change. Continuing to explore planets in our solar system is helpful and important in order to obtain more knowledge and to further understand how solar systems work.
Settle down folks, this is science. A recent report details NASA’s potential plans for missions to Neptune and Uranus in the future. One of the primary science directives of these missions, will be to send an atmospheric probe to Uranus in order to sample its gasses and elements.
Compared to Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and Saturn, we know little about Uranus and Neptune. We need to undertake more missions to the gas giants in order to increase our knowledge of the planets and their respective atmospheres. The Uranus mission is targeted for 2030-2036, and the Neptune mission for 2040.
One of the gas giants’ mysteries is the true composition of their interiors. Jonathan Fortney, a professor at UC Santa Cruz tells the Verge that there is likely a unique composition for each planet:
“The curious thing about Uranus and Neptune is that, although they look very similar, something about their interiors is actually quite a bit different,”
The only vehicle to visit Uranus and Neptune was Voyager 2 launched in 1977. The probe only had a brief fly-by opportunity before using the planet’s gravity to slingshot into inter stellar space. We came within 50,000 miles of Uranus and 3,000 miles of Neptune, but that’s the closest we’ve ever been.
Below you can find a mission concept analysis summary of the probes NASA wants to use for the mission. The mission calls for three probes to Uranus, and one sent to Neptune.
Four missions have been proposed, yet it’s likely that only one is chosen due to socio-economic restraints. There’s an optimal launch window between 2029 and 2034 that would allow us to send probes to the planets in 10-13 years time – and while our current planetary target is Mars, our scientific horizons are likely to shift to the gas giants in the near future.
“I think those are going to be some of the main science targets of the next decade,” Fortney says.
Don’t laugh, this is serious.
NASA has spotted unique, never before seen Auroras on Uranus, and this is not the butt end of some foolish joke.
Above is a composite image of Uranus by Voyager 2 and two different observations made by Hubble — one for the ring and one for the auroras.
Ever since Voyager 2 beamed home spectacular images of the planets in the 1980s, planet-lovers have been hooked on auroras on other planets. Auroras are caused by streams of charged particles like electrons that come from various origins such as solar winds, the planetary ionosphere, and moon volcanism. They become caught in powerful magnetic fields and are channeled into the upper atmosphere, where their interactions with gas particles, such as oxygen or nitrogen, set off spectacular bursts of light.
The auroras on Jupiter and Saturn are well-studied, but not much is known about the auroras of the giant ice planet Uranus. In 2011, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope became the first Earth-based telescope to snap an image of the auroras on Uranus. In 2012 and 2014 a team led by an astronomer from Paris Observatory took a second look at the auroras using the ultraviolet capabilities of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) installed on Hubble.
They tracked the interplanetary shocks caused by two powerful bursts of solar wind traveling from the sun to Uranus, then used Hubble to capture their effect on Uranus’ auroras — and found themselves observing the most intense auroras ever seen on the planet. By watching the auroras over time, they collected the first direct evidence that these powerful shimmering regions rotate with the planet. They also re-discovered Uranus’ long-lost magnetic poles, which were lost shortly after their discovery by Voyager 2 in 1986 due to uncertainties in measurements and the featureless planet surface.
Originally published at NASA