There are several reasons why it is important to explore the outer solar system. Some of these reasons include;
It is important for understanding and comprehending the atmospheric circulation. All the outer planets have different and varying atmospheres compared to the terrestrial planets; therefore, an understanding of them will help in the development of fluid dynamics models which are highly advanced. These could be used in ocean currents.
The weather is similar to that of the earth. There are processes on earth which are taken to extremes on Titan (this is Saturns moon). Titan has a thick and heavy greenhouse atmosphere which experiences strong rainstorms and massive desertification. Seas in the Titan experience coastline erosion together with changes in climate.
To understand more on atmospheric chemistry and astrobiology; reducing atmospheres in the outer solar system are home to a vigorous organic chemistry which does not take place currently in the present day. This therefore offers the chance to analyze and assess the natural production of biological building blocks.
Solar system exploration helps in understanding the structure and composition of the magnetosphere
Solar system exploration helps in understanding the behavior of material in extreme low or high temperatures which are not experienced on earth. A perfect example is how ice behaves when subjected to temperatures of the outer solar system, it behaves like a rock.
Solar system exploration helps in the discovery of exoplanets, planets which are same as Uranus and Neptune. There is very little understanding of these ice giants and new planets.
The exploration of the solar system will have five major scientific objectives:
Establishing the origin of the suns family of planets together with minor bodies in the solar system
Establishing how the solar system evolved and became how and what it is currently (its current diverse state)
Analyzing the characteristics and features of the solar system and how these features contributed to the origin of life
Studying the commencement and evolution of the earth, while trying to find out whether life has evolved in the solar system
Establishing the hazards and resources which are in the solar system environment and its impact on the extension of human presence in space
The diversity and uniqueness of the outer solar system offers the opportunity for a wide range of scientific explorations and investigations. Solar system exploration provides an insight and an in-depth understanding of the formation of the solar system, especially through studying of atmospheric composition together with the internal structure. The satellites of the giant planets some comparable in size to terrestrial planets offer the opportunity to study extreme environments on comparably- sized worlds that have experienced very different geologic histories. Some of the rings and magnetospheres of the giant planets are an illustration of how active processes of collisions and momentum transfer played a role in influencing the early stages in the formation of the solar system.
When it comes to the exploration of the solar system, there are three main science goals. These are:
Building Blocks: Under building blocks, we have the characterization of locations, characteristics and history of small and primitive bodies which exemplify and embody solar system materials and components of planets. These components may have supplied organic matter and volatiles which have contributed to life. The main goal of building blocks is to characterize the locations, properties and history of small, relatively primitive bodies that may typify early solar system materials from which planets formed and may have supplied organic matter and volatiles that led to life.
Interior Secrets: Establish the composition, structure and features of the interiors of planetary bodies to offer important clues with regards to the formation and evolution of the planetary and solar system. It is impossible to claim an understanding of the solar system, its formation and the processes taking place in it without an understanding of how the interiors of the giant planets are. It is important to find answers for the following questions: Were all the giant planets formed in a similar manner? Which processes can be attributed to the differences betwixt the various planets? What is the amount of water that is present in the atmosphere of every planet? The determination of the abundance of water is going to assist in the differentiating between the diverse scenarios of formation. In addition to that, it will also offer ideas on how volatiles, for example, water, came to be in the inner solar system. The main scientific goal of interior secrets is to find out and establish the composition, the structure together with other features of planetary bodies. This information is important in providing significant breakthroughs and findings with regards to the formation of planets and the process of evolution.
Extreme Environments: Analyze and evaluate all the conditions which are capable of supporting life, the planetary processes which lead to the generation and support of habitable worlds. Research done has shown that there are living organisms on Earth in places where there are extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. Findings from these researches have been important in the evaluation and research of whether there are planetary environments capable of sustaining life. The first issue that needs to be tackled is that of habitability in planetary environments. It is important to establish how the various planetary environments have managed to evolve with time, the ways and manners in which these planetary environments are habitable and whether life exists in these planets. The second question is whether there are reservoirs and stores of organic materials, with a stable environment capable of providing and offering opportunity for the development of a complex chemistry, while ensuring that there is no disruption caused by planetary effects or through high fluxes of energetic charged particles which have been trapped in the magnetospheres of the giant planets. Therefore, the main scientific goal of extreme goal is to establish the range of conditions which are capable of supporting life and all the planetary processes which play a role in the generation and sustainable of habitable worlds.
To address these science goals, there are three main types of destinations:
Small Icy Bodies: There are some smaller bodies of the solar system which have gone through processing and deformation. They are made up of the earliest materials which have been kept in the deep freeze.
Giant Planets: These comprise most of the planetary mass of the solar system. These planets are very important when it comes to analyzing how the solar system was formed and how it has evolved with time.
Intriguing Moons: These comprise of large and big moons present in the giant planets. Their surfaces, interiors and atmospheres indicate processes of the evolution of planets through different stages.
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