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Tech & Science Is Uranus leaking into space? Data hidden in the Voyager 2 spacecraft since 1986 reveals the planet's twisted magnetic field is releasing bits of its atmosphere

05:00  31 march  2020
05:00  31 march  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Is Uranus leaking into space ? Data hidden in the Voyager 2 spacecraft since 1986 reveals the planet ' s twisted magnetic field is releasing bits of its atmosphere . NASA reanalyzed data from the Voyger 2's visit to Uranus in 1986 . The team found the planet ' s atmosphere is leaking through a

The Atmosphere of Uranus Is Literally Leaking Gas Into Space . Hidden in the data from Voyager 2 ’s historic 1986 encounter with the icy planet , and undiscovered until now, was the presence of And its magnetic field is strangely misaligned with the planet ’ s rotation, causing it to wildly lurch about.

A startling discovery has been by NASA after analyzing data from the Voyager 2's 1986 visit to Uranus - the magnetic bubble surrounding the planet is funneling the atmosphere out into space © Provided by Daily Mail A startling discovery has been by NASA after analyzing data from the Voyager 2's 1986 visit to Uranus - the magnetic bubble surrounding the planet is funneling the atmosphere out into space

A startling discovery has been by NASA after analysing data from the Voyager 2's 1986 visit to Uranus - the magnetic bubble surrounding the planet is funneling its atmosphere out into space. 

The atmospheric loss is due to the planet's twisted magnetic field that causes the magnetosphere to wobble 'like a poorly-thrown football.' 

This results in parts of Uranus' atmosphere leaking out in charged bubbles of plasma, called plasmoids, which pinch off from the magnetic field as it moves around by the Sun.

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Voyager 2 ’ s charge into interstellar space follows that of sibling Voyager 1, which accomplished the The two spacecrafts ’ data have many features in common, such as the overall density of the For instance, researchers now know that the interstellar magnetic field is about two to three times

(CNN) Only one spacecraft has flown near Uranus and Neptune, the mysterious ice giant planets on the edge of our solar system. Yet the wealth of data captured by NASA' s Voyager 2 spacecraft some 34 years ago is still revealing tantalizing hints and reminding scientists of why we need to go back.

Scientists have determined that the plasmoid around Uranus measures about 127,000 miles (204,387 kilometres) by 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometres) and has pulled between 15 to 55 percent of Uranus' atmosphere out from the planet.

Scientists have long theorized that magnetic fields protect the planet by keeping solar winds at bay.

However, NASA explains that they can also create funnels for the atmosphere to escape.

This event has been observed to occur in both Saturn and Jupiter, and leaves experts to think Mars had once experienced a loss in its atmosphere.

Gina DiBraccio, space physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and project scientist for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN mission, said: 'Mars used to be a wet planet with a thick atmosphere.'

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The planet is shedding its atmosphere into the void, a signal that was recorded but overlooked in Earth’ s magnetic field largely shields its atmosphere from this destructive behavior, but 100 tons of Uranus ’ s global magnetic field may help it avoid a Mars-like fate. But as Voyager 2 discovered, that

Hidden in the data from Voyager 2 's historic 1986 encounter with the icy planet , and undiscovered until now, was the presence of a plasmoid - a pocket of atmospheric material being funnelled away from Uranus by the planet ' s magnetic field . It ' s the first time a plasmoid has been spotted in connection

The planet's twisted magnetic field causes the magnetosphere to wobble 'like a poorly-thrown football, allowing bubbles of plasma to escape that hold parts of the atmosphere. Pictured is a concept drawing of the Voyager 2 spacecraft © Provided by Daily Mail The planet's twisted magnetic field causes the magnetosphere to wobble 'like a poorly-thrown football, allowing bubbles of plasma to escape that hold parts of the atmosphere. Pictured is a concept drawing of the Voyager 2 spacecraft

'It evolved over time' — 4 billion years of leakage to space — 'to become the dry planet we see today.'

However, unlike most planets, Uranus seems to beat to its own drum when it rotates – it sits almost perfectly on its side.

'Its magnetic field axis points 60 degrees away from that spin axis, so as the planet spins, its magnetosphere — the space carved out by its magnetic field — wobbles like a poorly-thrown football, NASA explains in a statement.

This movement is so unique, it caught the attention of DiBraccio and her team, who extracted 34 years of data from Voyager 2's magnetometer readings.

This information shows the strength and direction of the magnetic fields near Uranus the craft flew by.

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A blip in the magnetic field of Uranus indicates its atmosphere is leaking out into space . In recent years planetary scientists have learned that atoms from planetary atmospheres can get caught up in the planet ' s magnetic field , which In January 1986 , the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Uranus

This is an image of the planet Uranus taken by the spacecraft Voyager 2 in 1986 . The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A recent NASA Hubble Space Telescope view reveals Uranus surrounded by its four major rings and by 10 of its 17 known satellites.

The plasmoid DiBraccio and coauthor Dan Gershman, a fellow Goddard space physicist to the project, found appeared during just 60 seconds of Voyager 2’s 45-hour-long flight passed the giant planet.

The magnetic looked like a quick up-down blip in the magnetometer data, Gershman said that when recreated in 3D it appears more like a cylinder.

Comparing their results to plasmoids observed at Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, they estimated a cylindrical shape at least 127,000 miles (204,387 kilometres) long, and up to roughly 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometres) across.

And the team believes this plasmoid, like others in space, contains charged particles — mostly ionised hydrogen.

Whereas some plasmoids have a twisted internal magnetic field, DiBraccio and Gershman observed smooth, closed magnetic loops. 

Such loop-like plasmoids are typically formed as a spinning planet flings bits of its atmosphere to space. 

'Centrifugal forces take over, and the plasmoid pinches off,' Gershman said. 

According to their estimates, plasmoids like that one could account for between 15 and 55 percent of atmospheric mass loss at Uranus, a greater proportion than either Jupiter or Saturn.

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Scientists reinspecting 34-year-old data from NASA' s Voyager 2 have discovered one more secret In situ measurements of Uranus ' magnetosphere from the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986 provide the Analysis of high‐resolution Voyager 2 magnetic field data in Uranus ' magnetotail reveals the presence of a

Voyager 1 is a space probe that was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977. Part of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System, Voyager 1 was launched 16 days after its twin

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