For the longest time, the only gas giant planets we knew about were Jupiter and Saturn. But now in the age of extrasolar planets, astronomers have discovered thousands of gas giants across almost as many star systems. What new discoveries have been made about gas giants, both here in the Solar System and across the Milky Way?
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Good news! Over the next few years, we’re going to see a flotilla of new missions headed to Jupiter and Saturn. Why aren’t we seeing more missions to the outer planets, like Uranus and Neptune? It turns out, those places are far away. Today let’s talk about the challenge of exploring the outer Solar System.
The outer Solar System is far enough from the Sun that water doesn’t get blasted away into deep space. In this icy realm, there are many worlds with vast quantities of water ice. Today let’s look at the icy outer moons and dwarf planets.
We’re learning more and more about the outer planets of the Solar System. Uranus and Neptune are ice giants, filled with water and other volatiles that we’d consider ice if it was here on Earth. What’s inside these worlds, and what could we expect to find across the Milky Way?