JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
This artwork, by Julian Baum, shows the Voyager 2 spaceprobe less than an hour from closest approach to the planet Uranus on 24 January 1986. Uranus is one of the four great gas giants. It is unique in that its equator, along with its moons and tenuous ring system, is tilted at 98 degrees to the plane of the Solar System. Because of this, Voyager's encounter with the planet and its satellites lasted only about six hours. It also means that in alternate seasons Uranus' poles and equator in turn face the Sun. Uranus orbits the Sun once in 84 years and, at present, the planet's south pole faces the Sun, in the midst of a 21-year long summer.
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