Uranus Has A Foul Stench, But No One Will Get A Whiff

Uranus, photographed by Voyager II in 1986.

All of its 27 moons are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Merely because of the way it sounds, though, Uranus is the most jeered planet in our solar system.

And the recent discovery that clouds in its upper atmosphere are made chiefly, of hydrogen sulfide—the compound that makes rotten eggs smell so foul—will only seal its comic reputation.

Its unpleasant odor is an extraneous matter. If a human were ever to descend through the Uranian cloudscape, much before they could take in a whiff of it, its bitter cold—minus 300 Fahrenheit—and toxic air, made of hydrogen, helium and methane would have taken their toll.

Uranus is a fine oddball. A blue-green orb, with a volume 60 times that of Earth, it spins around the Sun tipped over on its side. Yes, sideways. This is a world, where winter lasts 42 Earth years and during that time the Sun doesn’t come up at all. It also has a strange magnetosphere (below), a side-effect of its bizarre tilt.


The Return Of “Star Trek”

I haven’t had the chance to watch the new “Star Trek: Discovery” yet, but the opening credit sequence is remarkable, though no one narrates:

Space: the final frontier.

These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.