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Space & Astronomy

Uranus smells like rotten eggs, say scientists

By T.K. Randall
April 23, 2018 · Comment icon 22 comments

Uranus smells really bad (no pun intended). Image Credit: NASA
Hydrogen sulfide, which gives rotten eggs their smell, has been discovered in the seventh planet's atmosphere.
The presence of the gas on Uranus had long been suspected, but it wasn't until astronomers made observations using the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) instrument on the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii that it was finally confirmed.

The instrument was able to spot the signature of hydrogen sulfide above Uranus' cloud tops.

"Only a tiny amount remains above the clouds as a saturated vapor," said study co-author Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester. "And this is why it is so challenging to capture the signatures of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide above cloud decks of Uranus."
"The superior capabilities of Gemini finally gave us that lucky break."

The discovery is helping physicists understand more about the structure and atmosphere of Uranus.

"If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus' clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions," said study lead author Patrick Irwin of Oxford University.

"[Of course], suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius atmosphere, made of mostly hydrogen, helium, and methane, would take its toll long before the smell."

Source: BBC News | Comments (22)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Alaric 6 years ago
Does too... 
Comment icon #14 Posted by Echoes 6 years ago
My question is why on Earth (Or not on Earth) were scientists sniffing my anus to find out about this? Also, what an insult saying it smells like rotten eggs! ________________________________________________________________ There's also no way you could know that it doesn't, as (I hope) you haven't been sniffing it as well! 
Comment icon #15 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
Has nobody here ever visited Rotarua in New Zealand?  Smells like that too but you get used to it. It's highly volatile and a beautiful place with many public hot springs, and some would enjoy in public parks but fenced off because they are seriously hot. 
Comment icon #16 Posted by Skulduggery 6 years ago
Uranus jokes were annoying eye-rollers even in 1st grade.
Comment icon #17 Posted by ChaosRose 6 years ago
Date on the article wasn't April 1st, was it?
Comment icon #18 Posted by Hawkin 6 years ago
I wonder if Mars taste like a candy bar?
Comment icon #19 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
Comment icon #20 Posted by Ogbin 6 years ago
And truth is stranger than fiction..
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sundew 6 years ago
Often the case!  
Comment icon #22 Posted by Aardvark-DK 6 years ago
Thought it smelled like ur...ok I will shut up now, and go back to kindergarden....

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