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Space & Astronomy

Uranus is leaking atmospheric gases into space

By T.K. Randall
March 27, 2020 · Comment icon 12 comments

Gas is escaping from Uranus, a new study has found. Image Credit: NASA
A new analysis of data from NASA's Voyager 2 mission has revealed that the atmosphere of Uranus is leaking.
The ice giant Uranus is perhaps the most unique of all the planets in our solar system thanks to its peculiar tilt which sees it rotate on an axis set almost 90 degrees off of the orbital plane of the Sun.

Now scientists studying data collected in 1986 during Voyager 2's historic flyby of Uranus have revealed the discovery of a plasmoid - the first ever found in connection with a planet of this type.

The phenomenon is essentially a pocket of the planet's atmosphere that is being funnelled away into space by its magnetic field - a process known as atmospheric escape.

It's the same process that ultimately caused Mars, which was once thought to have an atmosphere similar to the Earth, to end up as the dry, barren wasteland we see today.
Many worlds, including the Earth, are leaking their atmospheres, albeit at varying rates.

While the discovery is a big deal for scientists trying to better understand Uranus and its rather chaotic magnetosphere, learning more is likely to necessitate another robotic mission to the planet itself.

"The nature of magnetospheric circulation and mass-loss processes remain outstanding and essential topics at both Uranus and Neptune," the researchers wrote.

"In order to definitively determine the relative contributions of planetary rotation and solar wind forcing in driving global plasma dynamics, new in situ measurements will be necessary."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (12)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
This is true, but I fail to see what it has to do with the topic.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Eldorado 4 years ago
"Uranus is leaking atmospheric gases into space"? 10/10  lol
Comment icon #5 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Well, earth like Uranus is leaking atmospheric gases into space...I think it's going well with the title of the link: Uranus is leaking atmospheric gases into space...  
Comment icon #6 Posted by Festina 4 years ago
Ya beat beat me to it — was gonna say  something like that.   The title is perfect humour.  A rarity these days.  
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
That is an incredibly tenuous link. Your post has nothing to do with Voyager and nothing to do with Uranus. In fact your post has nothing at all to do with the subject of this topic. It's a worthwhile subject of discussion, and worthy of a thread, if you want to start one.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
It was just to say that some post got automatically linked here...peace 
Comment icon #9 Posted by godnodog 4 years ago
So Uranus is farting
Comment icon #10 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod 4 years ago
Sorry, I had beans for dinner.
Comment icon #11 Posted by DanL 4 years ago
I wonder if my old high school science teacher could say that
Comment icon #12 Posted by DanL 4 years ago
I wonder if my old high school science teacher could say that

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