New Horizons Spacecraft to Capture Images of Uranus and Neptune
The New Horizons spacecraft, originally designed to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, is now embarking on a new mission to capture images of the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. In a unique approach, the spacecraft will be taking the images from “behind” the planets, offering a fresh perspective on these distant celestial bodies.
To aid in this endeavor, NASA is reaching out to amateur astronomers for their assistance in studying Uranus and Neptune. By combining the observations made by New Horizons with data gathered from telescopes on Earth, scientists hope to enhance their understanding of the atmospheres of these mysterious giants.
“This collaborative effort will provide invaluable data that can greatly enhance our mission,” said a spokesperson from NASA. The images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of Uranus and Neptune will be made publicly available at the end of September. Additionally, the New Horizons images, expected to be received by the end of 2023, will also be made accessible to the public.
Amateur observers are strongly encouraged to participate in this project by sharing their images and providing identification details on social media platforms using the hashtag #NHIceGiants. The images collected from these various sources are considered crucial, as only one spacecraft, Voyager 2, has ever visited Uranus and Neptune.
Leading planetary scientist, Dr. Kathleen Mandt, has been advocating for a dedicated probe to study the ice giants. In an article published in the journal Science, she highlighted the need for increased resources to investigate these distant planets further. However, as of now, NASA has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment regarding this proposal.
The mission to capture images of Uranus and Neptune is an exciting opportunity for both professional and amateur astronomers alike. It promises to provide a wealth of new data that could unlock some of the secrets of these enigmatic ice giants.