It’s official: scientists have confirmed the Uranus actually smells like farts. Clearly, the best part of this story is the hilariously obvious punchline offered.
But in all seriousness, if that’s even possible, Uranus does smell like farts. The clouds actually smell like sulfur, think “rotten eggs” giving it that human fart quality thanks to the gas hydrogen sulfide.
It’s a familiar stench in the air near any kind of geothermic site. Scientists using the huge telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano have discovered the world’s most obvious space joke. “Uranus smells like farts” is an actual, and correct, headline making the rounds, as here and here. But it’s not a joke. The planet smells like rotten eggs. Anyone who has visited Yellowstone National Park understands the type of stench we are referring to.
As much as the natural show is a treat for the eyes, it can abuse the nose. Hydrogen sulfide, which has the odor of rotten eggs, rises deep from within the Earth and pervades at the hot springs and mudpots. –Wired
Scientists figured this out using the spectrometer on the Gemini North telescope. They found that the planet’s clouds are made up mostly of the smelly gas hydrogen sulfide. The discovery, reported in Nature Astronomy, should help astronomers better understand the formation not only of Uranus but of the other outer planets. For one thing, Uranus differs from gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, whose clouds are made up mostly of ammonia ice (and are thus less smelly).
“If an unfortunate human were to ever descend through Uranus’ clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions,” says study co-author Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford in a news release. Of course, no human would live long enough to actually smell it anyway. “Suffocation and exposure in the (minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit) atmosphere made of mostly hydrogen, helium, and methane would take its toll long before the smell.”
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