Portal:Uranus

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Uranus

Uranus as a featureless disc, photographed by Voyager 2 in 1986

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune, and both have different bulk chemical composition from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. For this reason, scientists often classify Uranus and Neptune as "ice giants" to distinguish them from the gas giants. Uranus's atmosphere is similar to Jupiter's and Saturn's in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, but it contains more "ices" such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of other hydrocarbons. It is the coldest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of 49 K (−224 °C; −371 °F), and has a complex, layered cloud structure with water thought to make up the lowest clouds and methane the uppermost layer of clouds. The interior of Uranus is mainly composed of ices and rock.

Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere, and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration among those of the planets because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. In 1986, images from Voyager 2 showed Uranus as an almost featureless planet in visible light, without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giant planets. Observations from Earth have shown seasonal change and increased weather activity as Uranus approached its equinox in 2007. Wind speeds can reach 250 metres per second (900 km/h; 560 mph).

Uranus is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure from Greek mythology, from the Latinised version of the Greek god of the sky Ouranos.

Selected article

Uranus' southern hemisphere in approximate natural colour (left) and in higher wavelengths (right), showing its faint cloud bands and atmospheric "hood" as seen by Voyager 2
The climate of Uranus is heavily influenced by both its lack of internal heat, which limits atmospheric activity, and by its extreme axial tilt, which induces intense seasonal variation. Uranus' atmosphere is remarkably bland in comparison to the other gas giants which it otherwise closely resembles. When Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986, it observed a total of ten cloud features across the entire planet. Later observations from the ground or by the Hubble Space Telescope made in the 1990s and the 2000s revealed bright clouds in the northern (winter) hemisphere of the planet. In 2006 a dark spot similar to the Great Dark Spot on Neptune was detected.

Selected biography

Gerard Kuiper
Gerard Peter Kuiper (/ˈkpər/; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkœypər]; born Gerrit Pieter Kuiper December 7, 1905, Harenkarspel (Tuitjenhorn), Netherlands – December 24, 1973, Mexico City) was a Dutch astronomer who became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Kuiper discovered two natural satellites of planets in the solar system, namely Uranus's satellite Miranda and Neptune's satellite Nereid. In addition, he discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars and the existence of a methane-laced atmosphere above Saturn's satellite Titan in 1944.

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.

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