We should go and look for alien life on Uranus and Enceladus, scientists have urged.
Nasa should prioritise missions to the distant planet and moon of Saturn, say researchers in a new planetary science and astrobiology decadal survey published by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The survey report recommends priorities for the research community over the next 10 年, including the best opportunities in the search for alien life. It draws on input from scientists through panels, 論文, speakers and more.
The report titled “Origins, Worlds, and Life: A Decadal Strategy for Planetary Science and Astrobiology 2023-2032,” argues Nasa’s highest priority flagship class planetary science mission over the next decade should be the Uranus Orbiter and Probe. The robotic mission would flyby the Uranus system and deliver a probe into the ringed gas giant’s atmosphere, the second mission ever to visit the world and the first since Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986.
A mission of second-highest priority should head to the Saturn system to search for signs of alien life, according to the recommendations in the report. The Enceladus Orbilander would orbit Saturn’s Moon Enceladus and later land on its icy surface to spend two years studying material believed to have erupted from a liquid ocean beneath the moon’s icy crust.
The decadal is published every 10 years after a study by a panel of planetary scientists and astrobiologists looking at outstanding questions, リソース, and strategic goals for the next 10 年. A similar decadal survey conducted by astronomers and published in November made recommendations about space and ground telescope research and development priorities over the next decade.
The previous planetary science deacdal survey looking from 2013 forward through 2022 also recommended a mission to Uranus, but placed the mission at slightly lower priority than missions to Mars to collect and return soil samples to Earth, and a mission to visit Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Both of the latter missions have become reality, with Nasa’s Perseverance rover drilling and storing samples on the Red Planet for the past year and the space agency’s Europa Clipper mission expected to launch in the fall of 2024.