More than 30 years ago, NASA’s iconic Voyager 2 spacecraft discovered the hidden features of a giant bubble in data collected by Uranus. Scientists speculate that bubbles may have stolen some of Uranus’s gaseous atmosphere.
This is the conclusion drawn by scientists after analyzing Voyager 2’s observation of the magnetic field around Uranus. These measurement methods have been studied before, but only a relatively rough point of view has been used.
In a recent new study, scientists studied the data at a high frame rate and found something that had previously been ignored: the sudden zigzag change in magnetic field readings lasted only one minute during the 45 hour journey of the spacecraft through Uranus.
Why? In fact, the tiny jitter in Voyager 2 data represents something bigger, because the spacecraft is flying too fast.
Specifically, scientists supporting the new research believe that jitter marks a plasma that was not well understood when it flew over the earth in January 1986, but now the problem has finally been solved. It’s actually a plasma.
Plasma is a huge plasma bubble, which is a group of charged particles. Plasma can shed like tears from the top of a magnetic sleeve around the earth.
Scientists have studied these structures on earth and nearby planets, but never on Uranus or its neighbor Neptune, because Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to visit these planets so far.
Scientists want to know about plasma because these structures can pull charged particles out of the earth’s atmosphere and throw them into space. If you change the atmosphere of a planet, you change the planet itself. Uranus is particularly complicated because it rotates on its own side and its magnetic field deviates from the axes and planes of all planets.
Because Voyager 2 passed directly through the plasma, scientists could use archived data to measure the structure, which they believe is about 400000 kilometers wide and possibly 204000 kilometers long, according to NASA.
Ideally, scientists will look more at Uranus’s magnetic field in order to better understand how the phenomenon has evolved over time. But it takes another spaceship to visit this strange world.