Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

The planets in our solar system can have dramatically different cloud decks based on how they were formed, the researchers explain.

The only space probe to have been anywhere near the seventh planet from the Sun was Voyager 2, which swooped past in 1986. The bulk of Jupiter and Saturn's upper clouds are instead comprised of ammonia ice. However, this was more of an inference rather than a direct observation and was hinted by the absence of certain wavelengths of light.

Patrick Irwin from the University of Oxford said in a statement that, "If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus's clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions". It's interesting to note that Gemini's Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) was created to study explosive environments around the supermassive black holes found at the center of far-away galaxies.

Incidentally, this concentration is also just strong enough to produce the rotten-egg smell the molecule is known for, confirming that Uranus smells.and it's probably like a fart.

Uranus and Neptune both formed in the colder part of the solar nebulae that seeded the planets billions of years ago. Scientists have found evidence of hydrogen sulfide throughout the upper atmosphere of Uranus.

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A recent study analyzing data collected more than 30 years ago by the Voyager 2 spacecraft has found that the Uranus's global magnetosphere is nothing like Earth's, which is known to be aligned almost with our planet's spin axis.

Researchers have long wondered about the composition of the clouds high up in Uranus' sky - specifically, whether they're dominated by ammonia ice, as at Jupiter and Saturn, or by hydrogen sulfide ice.

'Now, thanks to improved hydrogen sulfide absorption-line data and the wonderful Gemini spectra, we have the fingerprint which caught the culprit, ' says Irwin. According to the researchers behind it, no one has definitively determined the composition of Uranus' cloud top; however, it's believed to be primarily made of hydrogen sulfide or ammonia. It filters the sunlight received above the Uranus clouds.

"Only a tiny amount remains above the clouds as a saturated vapour", said Fletcher. The NIFS allowed them to look at infrared light from Uranus, and they found extremely faint traces of hydrogen sulfide lines. "The superior capabilities of Gemini finally gave us that lucky break", concludes Fletcher.

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