Portal:Uranus

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Uranus

A photo of Uranus taken by Voyager 2.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun; it is the third largest and fourth most massive planet in the solar system. Uranus was the first planet discovered in modern times. Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers due to its dimness. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system. Uranus' atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter and Saturn in being composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, contains a higher proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia and methane, along with the usual traces of hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system, with a minimum temperature of 49 K, and has a complex layered cloud structure in which water is thought to make up the lowest clouds, while methane makes up the uppermost layer of clouds. In 1986, images from the Voyager 2 space probe showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 m/s (560 mph).

More about...Uranus: its history, rings, atmosphere, climate, moons, and its exploration


Selected article

A photo of Titania taken by Voyager 2.
Titania is the largest moon of Uranus and the eighth largest moon in the Solar System. Discovered by William Herschel in 1787, Titania is named after the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania consists of approximately equal amounts of ice and rock, and is likely differentiated into a rocky core and an icy mantle. A layer of liquid water may be present at the core–mantle boundary. The surface of Titania, which is relatively dark and slightly red in color, appears to have been shaped by both impacts and endogenic processes. It is covered by numerous impact craters reaching 326 km in diameter, but is less heavily cratered than the surface of Uranus' outermost moon, Oberon. Titania's surface is cut by a system of enormous canyons and scarps; the result of the expansion of its interior during its later evolution. Infrared spectroscopy conducted from 2001 to 2005 revealed the presence of water ice as well as carbon dioxide on the surface of Titania, which in turn suggested that the moon may possess a tenuous carbon dioxide atmosphere with a surface pressure of about one 10 trillionth of a bar. In January 1986 Voyager 2 spacecraft took several images of Titania, which allowed mapping of about 40% of the moon’s surface.

Selected biography

William Herschel
Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS, German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, (15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born English astronomer, technical expert and composer who became famous for discovering Uranus and its two satellites. He also discovered infrared radiation, devised the first model of the Milky Way galaxy and made many other discoveries in astronomy.

Topics

Uranus Atmosphere ˑ Climate ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ Rings

Moons (Portia ˑ Puck ˑ Miranda ˑ Ariel ˑ Umbriel ˑ Titania ˑ Oberon ˑ Caliban ˑ Sycorax)

Astronomers: William Herschel ˑ William Lassell ˑ Gerard Kuiper ˑ James L. Elliot

See Also: Formation and evolution of the Solar System ˑ Gas Giant ˑ Nebular hypothesis

Bold articles are featured.
Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or major moons.


Selected picture

Inverness and Elsinore coronae on Miranda
Credit: NASA/JPL

This image of Miranda, obtained by Voyager 2 on approach, shows Inverness Corona (in the lower-left corner) and Elsinore Corona—V shaped feature in the upper-right corner. Voyager was 42,000 kilometers (26,000 miles) away when its narrow-angle camera acquired this clear-filter view. Grooved areas baring light and dark bands, distinct from other areas of mottled terrain, are visible at this resolution of about 600 meters (2,000 feet). Cutting across the bands are sinuous scarps, probably faults. Superimposed on both types of terrain are many bowl-shaped impact craters less than 5 km (3 mi) wide. The entire picture spans an area about 220 km (140 mi) across.

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