Voyager 2 Radio Observations of Uranus

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Jul 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4759, pp. 102-106
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4759.102


Within distances to Uranus of about 6 x 106 kilometers (inbound) and 35 x 106 kilometers (outbound), the planetary radio astronomy experiment aboard Voyager 2 detected a wide variety of radio emissions. The emission was modulated in a period of 17.24 ± 0.01 hours, which is identified as the rotation period of Uranus' magnetic field. Of the two poles where the axis of the off-center magnetic dipole (measured by the magnetometer experiment aboard Voyager 2) meets the planetary surface, the one closer to dipole center is now located on the nightside of the planet. The radio emission generally had maximum power and bandwidth when this pole was tipped toward the spacecraft. When the spacecraft entered the nightside hemisphere, which contains the stronger surface magnetic pole, the bandwidth increased dramatically and thereafter remained large. Dynamically evolving radio events of various kinds embedded in these emissions suggest a Uranian magnetosphere rich in magnetohydrodynamic phenomena.