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Uranus

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UranusistheseventhplanetfromtheSun.Ithasthethirdlargestplanetaryradiusand
fourthlargestplanetarymassintheSolarSystem.Uranusissimilarincompositionto
Neptune,andbothhavedifferentbulkchemicalcompositionfromthatofthelargergas
giantsJupiterandSaturn.Forthisreason,scientistsoftenclassifyUranusandNeptuneas
"icegiants"todistinguishthemfromthegasgiants.Uranus'satmosphere,althoughsimilar
toJupiter'sandSaturn'sinitsprimarycompositionofhydrogenandhelium,containsmore
"ices",suchaswater,ammonia,andmethane,alongwithtracesofotherhydrocarbons.[11]It
isthecoldestplanetaryatmosphereintheSolarSystem,withaminimumtemperatureof
49K(224.2C),andhasacomplex,layeredcloudstructure,withwaterthoughttomake
upthelowestclouds,andmethanetheuppermostlayerofclouds.[11]TheinteriorofUranus
ismainlycomposedoficesandrock.[10]
UranusistheonlyplanetwhosenameisderivedfromafigurefromGreekmythology,from
theLatinizedversionoftheGreekgodofthesky,Ouranos.Liketheothergiantplanets,
Uranushasaringsystem,amagnetosphere,andnumerousmoons.TheUraniansystemhas
auniqueconfigurationamongthoseoftheplanetsbecauseitsaxisofrotationistilted
sideways,nearlyintotheplaneofitsrevolutionabouttheSun.Itsnorthandsouthpoles
thereforeliewheremostotherplanetshavetheirequators.[15]In1986,imagesfrom
Voyager2showedUranusasanalmostfeaturelessplanetinvisiblelight,withoutthecloud
bandsorstormsassociatedwiththeothergiantplanets.[15]ObservationsfromEarthhave
shownseasonalchangeandincreasedweatheractivityasUranusapproacheditsequinoxin
2007.Windspeedscanreach250metrespersecond(900km/h,560mph).[16]

Uranus

Uranusasafeaturelessdisc,photographed
byVoyager2in1986
Discovery
Discoveredby

WilliamHerschel

Discoverydate

March13,1781
Designations

Pronunciation

Contents
Adjectives

1 History

/jrns/or

/jrens/[1][2]

Uranian
Orbitalcharacteristics[7][a]

1.1 Discovery

EpochJ2000
Aphelion

20.11AU
(3,008Gm)

Perihelion

18.33AU
(2,742Gm)

1.2 Name
2 Orbitandrotation
2.1 Axialtilt
2.2 Visibility
3 Internalstructure

Semimajoraxis 19.2184AU
(2,875.04Gm)
Eccentricity

0.046 381

Orbitalperiod

84.0205yr
30,688.5d[3]
42,718Uraniansolar

3.1 Internalheat

days[4]

4 Atmosphere
4.1 Composition
4.2 Troposphere
4.3 Upperatmosphere

Synodicperiod

Averageorbital 6.80km/s[5]
speed
Meananomaly

142.238 600

Inclination

0.773toecliptic
6.48toSun'sequator

5 Planetaryrings
6 Magnetosphere
7 Climate
7.1 Bandedstructure,windsandclouds

369.66days[5]

1.02toinvariableplane[6]
Longitudeof
74.006
ascendingnode
Argumentof
perihelion

96.998 857

Knownsatellites 27

7.2 Seasonalvariation

Physicalcharacteristics

8 Formation

Meanradius

25,362 7km[8][b]

9 Moons

Equatorial
radius

25,559 4km

10 Exploration

Polarradius

24,973 20km

4.007Earths[8][b]

11 Inculture
12 Seealso
13 Notes

3.929Earths[8][b]
Flattening

0.0229 0.0008[c]

Circumference

159,354.1km[3]

Surfacearea

8.1156 109km2[3][b]
15.91Earths

Volume

6.833 1013km3[5][b]
63.086Earths

14 References
15 Furtherreading
16 Externallinks

Mass

History
ThoughUranusisvisibletothenakedeyelikethefiveclassicalplanets,itwasnever
recognizedasaplanetbyancientobserversbecauseofitsdimnessandsloworbit.[17]Sir
WilliamHerschelannounceditsdiscoveryonMarch13,1781,expandingtheknown
boundariesoftheSolarSystemforthefirsttimeinhistory.Uranuswasthefirstplanet
discoveredwithatelescope.

Discovery
Uranushadbeenobservedonmanyoccasionsbeforeitsrecognitionasaplanet,butitwas
generallymistakenforastar.PossiblytheearliestknownobservationwasbyHipparchos,
whoin128BCmayhaverecordeditasastarforhisstarcataloguethatwaslater
incorporatedintoPtolemy'sAlmagest.[18]Theearliestdefinitesightingwasin1690when
JohnFlamsteedobserveditatleastsixtimes,cataloguingitas34Tauri.TheFrench
astronomerPierreLemonnierobservedUranusatleasttwelvetimesbetween1750and
1769,[19]includingonfourconsecutivenights.
SirWilliamHerschelobservedUranusonMarch13,1781fromthegardenofhishouseat
19NewKingStreetinBath,Somerset,England(nowtheHerschelMuseumof
Astronomy),[20]andinitiallyreportedit(onApril26,1781)asacomet.[21]Herschel

(8.6810 0.0013) 1025kg


14.536Earths[9]
GM=5,793,939 13km3/s2

Meandensity

1.27g/cm3[5][b]

Surfacegravity 8.69m/s2[5][b]
0.886g
Escapevelocity 21.3km/s[5][b]
Sidereal
0.718 33d
rotationperiod
17h14min24s[8]
Equatorial
2.59km/s
rotationvelocity 9,320km/h
Axialtilt

97.77(toorbit)[5]

Northpole
rightascension

17h9m15s

Northpole
declination

15.175[8]

Albedo

0.300(Bond)

257.311[8]

0.51(geom.)[5]

"engagedinaseriesofobservationsontheparallaxofthe
fixedstars",[22]usingatelescopeofhisowndesign.
Herecordedinhisjournal"InthequartilenearTauri...
either[a]Nebulousstarorperhapsacomet".[23]OnMarch
17,henoted,"IlookedfortheCometorNebulousStarand
foundthatitisaComet,forithaschangeditsplace".[24]
WhenhepresentedhisdiscoverytotheRoyalSociety,he
continuedtoassertthathehadfoundacomet,butalso
implicitlycomparedittoaplanet:[22]
WilliamHerschel,discoverer
ofUranus

"ThepowerIhadonwhenIfirstsawthecomet
was227.FromexperienceIknowthatthe
diametersofthefixedstarsarenot
proportionallymagnifiedwithhigherpowers,as
planetsarethereforeInowputthepowersat
460and932,andfoundthatthediameterofthe
cometincreasedinproportiontothepower,as
itoughttobe,onthesuppositionofitsnotbeing
afixedstar,whilethediametersofthestarsto
whichIcompareditwerenotincreasedinthe
sameratio.Moreover,thecometbeing
magnifiedmuchbeyondwhatitslightwould
admitof,appearedhazyandilldefinedwith
thesegreatpowers,whilethestarspreserved
thatlustreanddistinctnesswhichfrommany
thousandobservationsIknewtheywouldretain.
Thesequelhasshownthatmysurmiseswere
wellfounded,thisprovingtobetheCometwe
havelatelyobserved".

Surfacetemp.

min mean
76K(197.2C)

1barlevel[10]
0.1bar
47K 53K
[11]
(tropopause)
Apparent
magnitude

5.9[12]to5.32[5]

Angular
diameter

3.3to4.1[5]

max
57K

Atmosphere[11][13][14][d]
Scaleheight

27.7km[5]

Compositionby
(Below1.3bar)
volume
Gases:
833%hydrogen(H2)
153%helium(He)
2.3%methane(CH4)
0.009%(0.0070.015%)
hydrogendeuteride(HD)
Ices:
ammonia
water
ammoniumhydrosulfide
methanehydrate

HerschelnotifiedtheAstronomerRoyal,NevilMaskelyne,ofhisdiscoveryandreceivedthisflummoxedreplyfromhimonApril23:"Idon't
knowwhattocallit.ItisaslikelytobearegularplanetmovinginanorbitnearlycirculartothesunasaCometmovinginaveryeccentric
ellipsis.Ihavenotyetseenanycomaortailtoit".[25]

AlthoughHerschelcontinuedtodescribehisnewobjectasacomet,otherastronomershadalreadybegunto
suspectotherwise.FinnishSwedishastronomerAndersJohanLexell,workinginRussia,wasthefirstto
computetheorbitofthenewobject[26]anditsnearlycircularorbitledhimtoaconclusionthatitwasa
planetratherthanacomet.BerlinastronomerJohannElertBodedescribedHerschel'sdiscoveryas"a
movingstarthatcanbedeemedahithertounknownplanetlikeobjectcirculatingbeyondtheorbitof
Saturn".[27]Bodeconcludedthatitsnearcircularorbitwasmorelikeaplanetthanacomet.[28]
Theobjectwassoonuniversallyacceptedasanewplanet.By1783,HerschelacknowledgedthistoRoyal
SocietypresidentJosephBanks:"BytheobservationofthemosteminentAstronomersinEuropeitappears
thatthenewstar,whichIhadthehonourofpointingouttotheminMarch1781,isaPrimaryPlanetofour
SolarSystem."[29]Inrecognitionofhisachievement,KingGeorgeIIIgaveHerschelanannualstipendof
200onconditionthathemovetoWindsorsothattheRoyalFamilycouldlookthroughhistelescopes.[30]
Replicaofthetelescopeusedby
HerscheltodiscoverUranus

Name

UranusisnamedaftertheancientGreekdeityoftheskyUranus(AncientGreek:),thefatherof
Cronus(Saturn)andgrandfatherofZeus(Jupiter),whichinLatinbecame"ranus".[1]Itistheonlyplanetwhosenameisderivedfroma
figureofGreekmythology.TheadjectiveofUranusis"Uranian".[31]ThepronunciationofthenameUranuspreferredamongastronomersis
/jrns/,[2]withstressonthefirstsyllableasinLatinranus,incontrastto/jrens/,withstressonthesecondsyllableandalonga,
thoughbothareconsideredacceptable.[e]
Consensusonthenamewasnotreacheduntilalmost70yearsaftertheplanet'sdiscovery.Duringtheoriginaldiscussionsfollowingdiscovery,
MaskelyneaskedHerschelto"dotheastronomicalworldthefaver[sic]togiveanametoyourplanet,whichisentirelyyourown,[and]which
wearesomuchobligedtoyouforthediscoveryof".[33]InresponsetoMaskelyne'srequest,HerscheldecidedtonametheobjectGeorgium
Sidus(George'sStar),orthe"GeorgianPlanet"inhonourofhisnewpatron,KingGeorgeIII.[34]Heexplainedthisdecisioninaletterto
JosephBanks:[29]
InthefabulousagesofancienttimestheappellationsofMercury,Venus,Mars,JupiterandSaturnweregiventothePlanets,as
beingthenamesoftheirprincipalheroesanddivinities.Inthepresentmorephilosophicaleraitwouldhardlybeallowabletohave
recoursetothesamemethodandcallitJuno,Pallas,ApolloorMinerva,foranametoournewheavenlybody.Thefirst
considerationofanyparticularevent,orremarkableincident,seemstobeitschronology:ifinanyfutureageitshouldbeasked,
whenthislastfoundPlanetwasdiscovered?Itwouldbeaverysatisfactoryanswertosay,'InthereignofKingGeorgetheThird'.

Herschel'sproposednamewasnotpopularoutsideBritain,andalternativesweresoonproposed.AstronomerJrmeLalandeproposedthatit
benamedHerschelinhonourofitsdiscoverer.[35]SwedishastronomerErikProsperinproposedthenameNeptune,whichwassupportedby
otherastronomerswholikedtheideatocommemoratethevictoriesoftheBritishRoyalNavalfleetinthecourseoftheAmerican
RevolutionaryWarbycallingthenewplanetevenNeptuneGeorgeIIIorNeptuneGreatBritain.[26]
InaMarch1782treatise,BodeproposedUranus,theLatinizedversionoftheGreekgodofthesky,Ouranos.[36]Bodearguedthatthename
shouldfollowthemythologysoasnottostandoutadifferenttotheotherplanets,andthatUranuswasanappropriatenameasthefatherofthe
firstgenerationoftheTitans.[36]HealsonotedthateleganceofthenameinthatjustasSaturnwasthefatherofJupiter,thenewplanetshould
benamedafterthefatherofSaturn.[30][36][37][38]In1789,Bode'sRoyalAcademycolleagueMartinKlaprothnamedhisnewlydiscovered
elementuraniuminsupportofBode'schoice.[39]Ultimately,Bode'ssuggestionbecamethemostwidelyused,andbecameuniversalin1850
whenHMNauticalAlmanacOffice,thefinalholdout,switchedfromusingGeorgiumSidustoUranus.[37]
Uranushastwoastronomicalsymbols.Thefirsttobeproposed,,[f]wassuggestedbyLalandein1784.InalettertoHerschel,Lalande
describeditas"unglobesurmontparlapremirelettredevotrenom"("aglobesurmountedbythefirstletterofyoursurname").[35]Alater
proposal, ,[g]isahybridofthesymbolsforMarsandtheSunbecauseUranuswastheSkyinGreekmythology,whichwasthoughttobe
dominatedbythecombinedpowersoftheSunandMars.[40]InChinese,Japanese,Korean,andVietnamese,itsnameisliterallytranslatedas
the"skykingstar"().[41][42][43][44]

Orbitandrotation
UranusorbitstheSunonceevery84Earthyears.ItsaveragedistancefromtheSunisroughly3billionkm(about20AU).Thedifference
betweenitsminimumandmaximumdistancefromtheSunis1.8AU,largerthanthatofanyotherplanet,thoughnotaslargeasthatofdwarf
planetPluto.[45]Theintensityofsunlightvariesinverselywiththesquareofdistance,andsoonUranus(atabout20timesthedistancefrom
theSuncomparedtoEarth)itisabout1/400theintensityoflightonEarth.[46]Itsorbitalelementswerefirstcalculatedin1783byPierre
SimonLaplace.[47]Withtime,discrepanciesbegantoappearbetweenthepredictedandobservedorbits,andin1841,JohnCouchAdamsfirst
proposedthatthedifferencesmightbeduetothegravitationaltugofanunseenplanet.In1845,UrbainLeVerrierbeganhisownindependent
researchintoUranus'sorbit.OnSeptember23,1846,JohannGottfriedGallelocatedanewplanet,laternamedNeptune,atnearlytheposition
predictedbyLeVerrier.[48]
TherotationalperiodoftheinteriorofUranusis17hours,14minutes.Asonallgiantplanets,itsupperatmosphereexperiencesstrongwinds
inthedirectionofrotation.Atsomelatitudes,suchasabout60degreessouth,visiblefeaturesoftheatmospheremovemuchfaster,makinga
fullrotationinaslittleas14hours.[49]

Axialtilt
TheUranianaxisofrotationisapproximatelyparallelwiththeplaneoftheSolarSystem,withanaxial
tiltof97.77(asdefinedbyprograderotation).Thisgivesitseasonalchangescompletelyunlikethose
oftheotherplanets.Nearthesolstice,onepolefacestheSuncontinuouslyandtheotherfacesaway.
Onlyanarrowstriparoundtheequatorexperiencesarapiddaynightcycle,butwiththeSunlowover
thehorizon.AttheothersideofUranus'sorbittheorientationofthepolestowardstheSunisreversed.
Eachpolegetsaround42yearsofcontinuoussunlight,followedby42yearsofdarkness.[50]Nearthe
timeoftheequinoxes,theSunfacestheequatorofUranusgivingaperiodofdaynightcyclessimilar
tothoseseenonmostoftheotherplanets.Incontrasttotheotherplanets,whosemotionsaroundthe
Sunresemblethatofspinningtops,Uranus'smotioncanratherbevisualizedasthatof,respectively,a
ballrollingontheeclipticplanenearsolsticesandaspinningriflebulletnearequinoxes.
UranusreacheditsmostrecentequinoxonDecember7,2007.[51][52]
Northernhemisphere

Year

Southernhemisphere

Wintersolstice

1902,1986

Summersolstice

Vernalequinox

1923,2007

Autumnalequinox

Summersolstice

1944,2028

Wintersolstice

Autumnalequinox

1965,2049

Vernalequinox

A1998falsecolournearinfrared
imageofUranusshowingcloud
bands,rings,andmoonsobtainedby
theHubbleSpaceTelescope's
NICMOScamera.

Oneresultofthisaxisorientationisthat,averagedovertheUranianyear,thepolarregionsofUranusreceiveagreaterenergyinputfromthe
Sunthanitsequatorialregions.Nevertheless,Uranusishotteratitsequatorthanatitspoles.Theunderlyingmechanismthatcausesthisis
unknown.ThereasonforUranus'sunusualaxialtiltisalsonotknownwithcertainty,buttheusualspeculationisthatduringtheformationof
theSolarSystem,anEarthsizedprotoplanetcollidedwithUranus,causingtheskewedorientation.[53]Uranus'ssouthpolewaspointedalmost
directlyattheSunatthetimeofVoyager2'sflybyin1986.Thelabellingofthispoleas"south"usesthedefinitioncurrentlyendorsedbythe
InternationalAstronomicalUnion,namelythatthenorthpoleofaplanetorsatelliteisthepolethatpointsabovetheinvariableplaneofthe
SolarSystem,regardlessofthedirectiontheplanetisspinning.[54][55]Adifferentconventionissometimesused,inwhichabody'snorthand
southpolesaredefinedaccordingtotherighthandruleinrelationtothedirectionofrotation.[56]

Visibility

From1995to2006,Uranus'sapparentmagnitudefluctuatedbetween+5.6and+5.9,placingitjustwithinthelimitofnakedeyevisibilityat
+6.5.[12]Itsangulardiameterisbetween3.4and3.7arcseconds,comparedwith16to20arcsecondsforSaturnand32to45arcsecondsfor
Jupiter.[12]Atopposition,Uranusisvisibletothenakedeyeindarkskies,andbecomesaneasytargeteveninurbanconditionswith
binoculars.[5]Inlargeramateurtelescopeswithanobjectivediameterofbetween15and23cm,Uranusappearsasapalecyandiskwith
distinctlimbdarkening.Withalargetelescopeof25cmorwider,cloudpatterns,aswellassomeofthelargersatellites,suchasTitaniaand
Oberon,maybevisible.[57]

Internalstructure
Uranus'smassisroughly14.5timesthatofEarth,makingittheleastmassiveofthegiantplanets.Its
diameterisslightlylargerthanNeptune'satroughlyfourtimesthatofEarth.Aresultingdensityof
1.27g/cm3makesUranusthesecondleastdenseplanet,afterSaturn.[8][9]Thisvalueindicatesthatitis
madeprimarilyofvariousices,suchaswater,ammonia,andmethane.[10]Thetotalmassoficein
Uranus'sinteriorisnotpreciselyknown,becausedifferentfiguresemergedependingonthemodel
chosenitmustbebetween9.3and13.5Earthmasses.[10][58]Hydrogenandheliumconstituteonlya
smallpartofthetotal,withbetween0.5and1.5Earthmasses.[10]Theremainderofthenonicemass
(0.5to3.7Earthmasses)isaccountedforbyrockymaterial.[10]
ThestandardmodelofUranus'sstructureisthatitconsistsofthreelayers:arocky(silicate/ironnickel)
coreinthecentre,anicymantleinthemiddleandanoutergaseoushydrogen/heliumenvelope.[10][59]
Thecoreisrelativelysmall,withamassofonly0.55Earthmassesandaradiuslessthan20%of
Uranus'sthemantlecomprisesitsbulk,witharound13.4Earthmasses,andtheupperatmosphereis
relativelyinsubstantial,weighingabout0.5Earthmassesandextendingforthelast20%ofUranus's
radius.[10][59]Uranus'scoredensityisaround9g/cm3,withapressureinthecenterof8millionbars
(800GPa)andatemperatureofabout5000K.[58][59]Theicemantleisnotinfactcomposedoficein
theconventionalsense,butofahotanddensefluidconsistingofwater,ammoniaandother
volatiles.[10][59]Thisfluid,whichhasahighelectricalconductivity,issometimescalledawater
ammoniaocean.[60]

SizecomparisonofEarthandUranus

DiagramoftheinteriorofUranus

TheextremepressureandtemperaturedeepwithinUranusmaybreakupthemethanemolecules,with
thecarbonatomscondensingintocrystalsofdiamondthatraindownthroughthemantlelike
hailstones.[61]VeryhighpressureexperimentsattheLawrenceLivermoreNationalLaboratorysuggestthatthebaseofthemantlemay

compriseanoceanofliquiddiamond,withfloatingsolid'diamondbergs'.[62][63]
ThebulkcompositionsofUranusandNeptunearedifferentfromthoseofJupiterandSaturn,withicedominatingovergases,hencejustifying
theirseparateclassificationasicegiants.Theremaybealayerofionicwaterwherethewatermoleculesbreakdownintoasoupofhydrogen
andoxygenions,anddeeperdownsuperionicwaterinwhichtheoxygencrystallisesbutthehydrogenionsmovefreelywithintheoxygen
lattice.[64]
Althoughthemodelconsideredaboveisreasonablystandard,itisnotuniqueothermodelsalsosatisfyobservations.Forinstance,if
substantialamountsofhydrogenandrockymaterialaremixedintheicemantle,thetotalmassoficesintheinteriorwillbelower,and,
correspondingly,thetotalmassofrocksandhydrogenwillbehigher.Presentlyavailabledatadoesnotallowsciencetodeterminewhich
modeliscorrect.[58]ThefluidinteriorstructureofUranusmeansthatithasnosolidsurface.Thegaseousatmospheregraduallytransitionsinto
theinternalliquidlayers.[10]Forthesakeofconvenience,arevolvingoblatespheroidsetatthepointatwhichatmosphericpressureequals
1bar(100kPa)isconditionallydesignatedasa"surface".Ithasequatorialandpolarradiiof255594and2497320km,respectively.[8]
Thissurfaceisusedthroughoutthisarticleasazeropointforaltitudes.

Internalheat
Uranus'sinternalheatappearsmarkedlylowerthanthatoftheothergiantplanetsinastronomicalterms,ithasalowthermalflux.[16][65]Why
Uranus'sinternaltemperatureissolowisstillnotunderstood.Neptune,whichisUranus'sneartwininsizeandcomposition,radiates2.61
timesasmuchenergyintospaceasitreceivesfromtheSun,[16]butUranusradiateshardlyanyexcessheatatall.Thetotalpowerradiatedby
Uranusinthefarinfrared(i.e.heat)partofthespectrumis1.060.08timesthesolarenergyabsorbedinitsatmosphere.[11][66]Uranus'sheat
fluxisonly0.0420.047W/m2,whichislowerthantheinternalheatfluxofEarthofabout0.075W/m2.[66]Thelowesttemperaturerecorded
inUranus'stropopauseis49K(224C),makingUranusthecoldestplanetintheSolarSystem.[11][66]
OneofthehypothesesforthisdiscrepancysuggeststhatwhenUranuswashitbyasupermassiveimpactor,whichcausedittoexpelmostofits
primordialheat,itwasleftwithadepletedcoretemperature.[67]AnotherhypothesisisthatsomeformofbarrierexistsinUranus'supperlayers
thatpreventsthecore'sheatfromreachingthesurface.[10]Forexample,convectionmaytakeplaceinasetofcompositionallydifferentlayers,
whichmayinhibittheupwardheattransport[11][66]perhapsdoublediffusiveconvectionisalimitingfactor.[10]

Atmosphere

AlthoughthereisnowelldefinedsolidsurfacewithinUranus'sinterior,theoutermostpartofUranus'sgaseousenvelopethatisaccessibleto
remotesensingiscalleditsatmosphere.[11]Remotesensingcapabilityextendsdowntoroughly300kmbelowthe1bar(100kPa)level,witha
correspondingpressurearound100bar(10MPa)andtemperatureof320K.[68]Thetenuouscoronaoftheatmosphereextendsovertwo
planetaryradiifromthenominalsurface,whichisdefinedtolieatapressureof1bar.[69]TheUranianatmospherecanbedividedintothree
layers:thetroposphere,betweenaltitudesof300and50kmandpressuresfrom100to0.1bar(10MPato10kPa)thestratosphere,spanning
altitudesbetween50and4000kmandpressuresofbetween0.1and1010bar(10kPato10Pa)andthethermosphere/coronaextending
from4,000kmtoashighas50,000kmfromthesurface.[11]Thereisnomesosphere.

Composition
ThecompositionofUranus'satmosphereisdifferentfromitsbulk,consistingmainlyofmolecularhydrogenandhelium.[11]Theheliummolar
fraction,i.e.thenumberofheliumatomspermoleculeofgas,is0.150.03[14]intheuppertroposphere,whichcorrespondstoamassfraction
0.260.05.[11][66]Thisvalueisclosetotheprotosolarheliummassfractionof0.2750.01,[70]indicatingthatheliumhasnotsettledinits
centreasithasinthegasgiants.[11]ThethirdmostabundantcomponentofUranus'satmosphereismethane(CH4).[11]Methanehasprominent
absorptionbandsinthevisibleandnearinfrared(IR),makingUranusaquamarineorcyanincolour.[11]Methanemoleculesaccountfor2.3%
oftheatmospherebymolarfractionbelowthemethaneclouddeckatthepressurelevelof1.3bar(130kPa)thisrepresentsabout20to
30timesthecarbonabundancefoundintheSun.[11][13][71]Themixingratio[h]ismuchlowerintheupperatmosphereduetoitsextremelylow
temperature,whichlowersthesaturationlevelandcausesexcessmethanetofreezeout.[72]Theabundancesoflessvolatilecompoundssuchas
ammonia,water,andhydrogensulfideinthedeepatmospherearepoorlyknown.Theyareprobablyalsohigherthansolarvalues.[11][73]Along
withmethane,traceamountsofvarioushydrocarbonsarefoundinthestratosphereofUranus,whicharethoughttobeproducedfrommethane
byphotolysisinducedbythesolarultraviolet(UV)radiation.[74]Theyincludeethane(C2H6),acetylene(C2H2),methylacetylene(CH3C2H),
anddiacetylene(C2HC2H).[72][75][76]Spectroscopyhasalsouncoveredtracesofwatervapor,carbonmonoxideandcarbondioxideintheupper
atmosphere,whichcanonlyoriginatefromanexternalsourcesuchasinfallingdustandcomets.[75][76][77]

Troposphere
Thetroposphereisthelowestanddensestpartoftheatmosphereandischaracterizedbyadecreaseintemperaturewithaltitude.[11]The
temperaturefallsfromabout320Katthebaseofthenominaltroposphereat300kmto53Kat50km.[68][71]Thetemperaturesinthecoldest
upperregionofthetroposphere(thetropopause)actuallyvaryintherangebetween49and57Kdependingonplanetarylatitude.[11][65]The
tropopauseregionisresponsibleforthevastmajorityofUranus'sthermalfarinfraredemissions,thusdeterminingitseffectivetemperatureof
59.10.3K.[65][66]

Thetroposphereisthoughttohaveahighlycomplexcloudstructurewatercloudsarehypothesisedtolieinthepressurerangeof50to100bar
(5to10MPa),ammoniumhydrosulfidecloudsintherangeof20to40bar(2to4MPa),ammoniaorhydrogensulfidecloudsatbetween3
and10bar(0.3to1MPa)andfinallydirectlydetectedthinmethanecloudsat1to2bar(0.1to0.2MPa).[11][13][68][78]Thetroposphereisa
dynamicpartoftheatmosphere,exhibitingstrongwinds,brightcloudsandseasonalchanges.[16]

Upperatmosphere
ThemiddlelayeroftheUranianatmosphereisthestratosphere,wheretemperaturegenerallyincreaseswithaltitudefrom53Kinthe
tropopausetobetween800and850Katthebaseofthethermosphere.[69]TheheatingofthestratosphereiscausedbyabsorptionofsolarUV
andIRradiationbymethaneandotherhydrocarbons,[79]whichforminthispartoftheatmosphereasaresultofmethanephotolysis.[74]Heatis
alsoconductedfromthehotthermosphere.[79]Thehydrocarbonsoccupyarelativelynarrowlayerataltitudesofbetween100and300km
correspondingtoapressurerangeof10to0.1mbar(1000to10kPa)andtemperaturesofbetween75and170K.[72][75]Themostabundant
hydrocarbonsaremethane,acetyleneandethanewithmixingratiosofaround107relativetohydrogen.Themixingratioofcarbonmonoxide
issimilaratthesealtitudes.[72][75][77]Heavierhydrocarbonsandcarbondioxidehavemixingratiosthreeordersofmagnitudelower.[75]The
abundanceratioofwaterisaround7 109.[76]Ethaneandacetylenetendtocondenseinthecolderlowerpartofstratosphereandtropopause
(below10mBarlevel)forminghazelayers,[74]whichmaybepartlyresponsiblefortheblandappearanceofUranus.Theconcentrationof
hydrocarbonsintheUranianstratosphereabovethehazeissignificantlylowerthaninthestratospheresoftheothergiantplanets.[72][80]
TheoutermostlayeroftheUranianatmosphereisthethermosphereandcorona,whichhasauniformtemperaturearound800to850K.[11][80]
Theheatsourcesnecessarytosustainsuchahighlevelarenotunderstood,asneitherthesolarUVnortheauroralactivitycanprovidethe
necessaryenergytomaintainthesetemperatures.Theweakcoolingefficiencyduetothelackofhydrocarbonsinthestratosphereabove
0.1mBarpressurelevelmaycontributetoo.[69][80]Inadditiontomolecularhydrogen,thethermospherecoronacontainsmanyfreehydrogen
atoms.Theirsmallmassandhightemperaturesexplainwhythecoronaextendsasfaras50000km,ortwoUranianradii,fromits
surface.[69][80]ThisextendedcoronaisauniquefeatureofUranus.[80]ItseffectsincludeadragonsmallparticlesorbitingUranus,causinga
generaldepletionofdustintheUranianrings.[69]TheUranianthermosphere,togetherwiththeupperpartofthestratosphere,correspondsto
theionosphereofUranus.[71]Observationsshowthattheionosphereoccupiesaltitudesfrom2000to10000km.[71]TheUranianionosphereis
denserthanthatofeitherSaturnorNeptune,whichmayarisefromthelowconcentrationofhydrocarbonsinthestratosphere.[80][81]The
ionosphereismainlysustainedbysolarUVradiationanditsdensitydependsonthesolaractivity.[82]Auroralactivityisinsignificantas
comparedtoJupiterandSaturn.[80][83]
Uranus'satmosphere

TemperatureprofileoftheUraniantroposphereandlower
stratosphere.Cloudandhazelayersarealsoindicated.

ZonalwindspeedsonUranus.Shadedareasshowthesouthern
collaranditsfuturenortherncounterpart.Theredcurveisa
symmetricalfittothedata.

Planetaryrings
Theringsarecomposedofextremelydarkparticles,whichvaryinsizefrommicrometrestoafractionofametre.[15]Thirteendistinctringsare
presentlyknown,thebrightestbeingthering.AllexcepttworingsofUranusareextremelynarrowtheyareusuallyafewkilometreswide.
TheringsareprobablyquiteyoungthedynamicsconsiderationsindicatethattheydidnotformwithUranus.Thematterintheringsmayonce

havebeenpartofamoon(ormoons)thatwasshatteredbyhighspeedimpacts.Fromnumerouspiecesofdebristhatformedasaresultof
thoseimpacts,onlyafewparticlessurvived,instablezonescorrespondingtothelocationsofthepresentrings.[84][85]
WilliamHerscheldescribedapossibleringaroundUranusin1789.Thissightingisgenerallyconsidereddoubtful,becausetheringsarequite
faint,andinthetwofollowingcenturiesnonewerenotedbyotherobservers.Still,Herschelmadeanaccuratedescriptionoftheepsilonring's
size,itsanglerelativetoEarth,itsredcolour,anditsapparentchangesasUranustravelledaroundtheSun.[86][87]Theringsystemwas
definitivelydiscoveredonMarch10,1977byJamesL.Elliot,EdwardW.Dunham,andJessicaMinkusingtheKuiperAirborneObservatory.
ThediscoverywasserendipitoustheyplannedtousetheoccultationofthestarSAO158687(alsoknownasHD128598)byUranustostudy
itsatmosphere.Whentheirobservationswereanalysed,theyfoundthatthestarhaddisappearedbrieflyfromviewfivetimesbothbeforeand
afteritdisappearedbehindUranus.TheyconcludedthattheremustbearingsystemaroundUranus.[88]Latertheydetectedfouradditional
rings.[88]TheringsweredirectlyimagedwhenVoyager2passedUranusin1986.[15]Voyager2alsodiscoveredtwoadditionalfaintrings,
bringingthetotalnumbertoeleven.[15]
InDecember2005,theHubbleSpaceTelescopedetectedapairofpreviouslyunknownrings.ThelargestislocatedtwiceasfarfromUranus
asthepreviouslyknownrings.ThesenewringsaresofarfromUranusthattheyarecalledthe"outer"ringsystem.Hubblealsospottedtwo
smallsatellites,oneofwhich,Mab,sharesitsorbitwiththeoutermostnewlydiscoveredring.ThenewringsbringthetotalnumberofUranian
ringsto13.[89]InApril2006,imagesofthenewringsfromtheKeckObservatoryyieldedthecoloursoftheouterrings:theoutermostisblue
andtheotheronered.[90][91]Onehypothesisconcerningtheouterring'sbluecolouristhatitiscomposedofminuteparticlesofwatericefrom
thesurfaceofMabthataresmallenoughtoscatterbluelight.[90][92]Incontrast,Uranus'sinnerringsappeargrey.[90]
Uranus'srings

Animationaboutthediscovering
occultationin1977.(Clickonitto
start)

Uranushasacomplicatedplanetary
ringsystem,whichwasthesecond
suchsystemtobediscoveredinthe
SolarSystemafterSaturn's.[84]

Uranus'sauroraeagainstits
equatorialrings,imagedbythe
Hubbletelescope.Unlikethe
auroraeofEarthandJupiter,those
ofUranusarenotinlinewithits
poles,duetoitslopsidedmagnetic
field.

Magnetosphere
BeforethearrivalofVoyager2,nomeasurementsoftheUranianmagnetospherehadbeentaken,soitsnatureremainedamystery.Before
1986,scientistshadexpectedthemagneticfieldofUranustobeinlinewiththesolarwind,becauseitwouldthenalignwithUranus'spoles
thatlieintheecliptic.[93]
Voyager'sobservationsrevealedthatUranus'smagneticfieldispeculiar,bothbecauseitdoesnotoriginatefromitsgeometriccentre,and
becauseitistiltedat59fromtheaxisofrotation.[93][94]InfactthemagneticdipoleisshiftedfromtheUranus'scentertowardsthesouth
rotationalpolebyasmuchasonethirdoftheplanetaryradius.[93]Thisunusualgeometryresultsinahighlyasymmetricmagnetosphere,where
themagneticfieldstrengthonthesurfaceinthesouthernhemispherecanbeaslowas0.1gauss(10T),whereasinthenorthernhemisphereit
canbeashighas1.1gauss(110T).[93]Theaveragefieldatthesurfaceis0.23gauss(23T).[93]Incomparison,themagneticfieldofEarthis
roughlyasstrongateitherpole,andits"magneticequator"isroughlyparallelwithitsgeographicalequator.[94]ThedipolemomentofUranus

is50timesthatofEarth.[93][94]Neptunehasasimilarlydisplacedandtiltedmagneticfield,
suggestingthatthismaybeacommonfeatureoficegiants.[94]Onehypothesisisthat,
unlikethemagneticfieldsoftheterrestrialandgasgiants,whicharegeneratedwithintheir
cores,theicegiants'magneticfieldsaregeneratedbymotionatrelativelyshallowdepths,
forinstance,inthewaterammoniaocean.[60][95]Anotherpossibleexplanationforthe
magnetosphere'salignmentisthatthereareoceansofliquiddiamondinUranus'sinterior
thatwoulddeterthemagneticfield.[96]

ThemagneticfieldofUranusasobservedby
Voyager2in1986.SandNaremagneticsouthand
northpoles.

Despiteitscuriousalignment,inotherrespectstheUranianmagnetosphereislikethoseof
otherplanets:ithasabowshockatabout23Uranianradiiaheadofit,amagnetopauseat
18Uranianradii,afullydevelopedmagnetotail,andradiationbelts.[93][94][97]Overall,the
structureofUranus'smagnetosphereisdifferentfromJupiter'sandmoresimilarto
Saturn's.[93][94]Uranus'smagnetotailtrailsbehinditintospaceformillionsofkilometres
andistwistedbyitssidewaysrotationintoalongcorkscrew.[93][98]
Uranus'smagnetospherecontainschargedparticles:mainlyprotonsandelectrons,witha

smallamountofH2+ions.[94][97]Noheavierionshavebeendetected.Manyoftheseparticlesprobablyderivefromthehotatmospheric
corona.[97]Theionandelectronenergiescanbeashighas4and1.2megaelectronvolts,respectively.[97]Thedensityoflowenergy(below
1kiloelectronvolt)ionsintheinnermagnetosphereisabout2cm3.[99]TheparticlepopulationisstronglyaffectedbytheUranianmoons,
whichsweepthroughthemagnetosphere,leavingnoticeablegaps.[97]Theparticlefluxishighenoughtocausedarkeningorspaceweathering
oftheirsurfacesonanastronomicallyrapidtimescaleof100,000years.[97]Thismaybethecauseoftheuniformlydarkcolourationofthe
Uraniansatellitesandrings.[85]Uranushasrelativelywelldevelopedaurorae,whichareseenasbrightarcsaroundbothmagneticpoles.[80]
UnlikeJupiter's,Uranus'sauroraeseemtobeinsignificantfortheenergybalanceoftheplanetarythermosphere.[83]

Climate
Atultravioletandvisiblewavelengths,Uranus'satmosphereisblandincomparisontotheothergiantplanets,eventoNeptune,whichit
otherwisecloselyresembles.[16]WhenVoyager2flewbyUranusin1986,itobservedatotaloftencloudfeaturesacrosstheentire
planet.[15][100]OneproposedexplanationforthisdearthoffeaturesisthatUranus'sinternalheatappearsmarkedlylowerthanthatoftheother
giantplanets.ThelowesttemperaturerecordedinUranus'stropopauseis49K,makingUranusthecoldestplanetintheSolarSystem,colder
thanNeptune.[11][66]

Bandedstructure,windsandclouds
In1986,Voyager2foundthatthevisiblesouthernhemisphereofUranuscanbesubdividedintotwo
regions:abrightpolarcapanddarkequatorialbands.[15]Theirboundaryislocatedatabout45of
latitude.Anarrowbandstraddlingthelatitudinalrangefrom45to50isthebrightestlargefeature
onitsvisiblesurface.[15][101]Itiscalledasouthern"collar".Thecapandcollararethoughttobea
denseregionofmethanecloudslocatedwithinthepressurerangeof1.3to2bar(seeabove).[102]
Uranus'ssouthernhemispherein
Besidesthelargescalebandedstructure,Voyager2observedtensmallbrightclouds,mostlying
approximatenaturalcolour(left)and
[15]
inshorterwavelengths(right),
severaldegreestothenorthfromthecollar. InallotherrespectsUranuslookedlikeadynamically
showingitsfaintcloudbandsand
deadplanetin1986.Voyager2arrivedduringtheheightofUranus'ssouthernsummerandcouldnot
atmospheric"hood"asseenby
observethenorthernhemisphere.Atthebeginningofthe21stcentury,whenthenorthernpolarregion
Voyager2
cameintoview,theHubbleSpaceTelescope(HST)andKecktelescopeinitiallyobservedneithera
collarnorapolarcapinthenorthernhemisphere.[101]SoUranusappearedtobeasymmetric:bright
nearthesouthpoleanduniformlydarkintheregionnorthofthesoutherncollar.[101]In2007,whenUranuspasseditsequinox,thesouthern
collaralmostdisappeared,andafaintnortherncollaremergednear45oflatitude.[103]
Inthe1990s,thenumberoftheobservedbrightcloudfeaturesgrewconsiderablypartlybecausenew
highresolutionimagingtechniquesbecameavailable.[16]Mostwerefoundinthenorthernhemisphere
asitstartedtobecomevisible.[16]Anearlyexplanationthatbrightcloudsareeasiertoidentifyinits
darkpart,whereasinthesouthernhemispherethebrightcollarmasksthemwasshowntobe
incorrect.[104][105]Neverthelesstherearedifferencesbetweenthecloudsofeachhemisphere.The
northerncloudsaresmaller,sharperandbrighter.[105]Theyappeartolieatahigheraltitude.[105]The
lifetimeofcloudsspansseveralordersofmagnitude.Somesmallcloudsliveforhoursatleastone
southerncloudmayhavepersistedsincetheVoyagerflyby.[16][100]Recentobservationalsodiscovered
thatcloudfeaturesonUranushavealotincommonwiththoseonNeptune.[16]Forexample,thedark
spotscommononNeptunehadneverbeenobservedonUranusbefore2006,whenthefirstsuchfeature
dubbedUranusDarkSpotwasimaged.[106]ThespeculationisthatUranusisbecomingmoreNeptune
likeduringitsequinoctialseason.[107]

Thefirstdarkspotobservedon
Uranus.ImageobtainedbytheHST
ACSin2006.

ThetrackingofnumerouscloudfeaturesalloweddeterminationofzonalwindsblowingintheuppertroposphereofUranus.[16]Attheequator
windsareretrograde,whichmeansthattheyblowinthereversedirectiontotheplanetaryrotation.Theirspeedsarefrom100to
50m/s.[16][101]Windspeedsincreasewiththedistancefromtheequator,reachingzerovaluesnear20latitude,wherethetroposphere's

temperatureminimumislocated.[16][65]Closertothepoles,thewindsshifttoaprogradedirection,flowingwithUranus'srotation.Wind
speedscontinuetoincreasereachingmaximaat60latitudebeforefallingtozeroatthepoles.[16]Windspeedsat40latituderangefrom
150to200m/s.Becausethecollarobscuresallcloudsbelowthatparallel,speedsbetweenitandthesouthernpoleareimpossibleto
measure.[16]Incontrast,inthenorthernhemispheremaximumspeedsashighas240m/sareobservednear+50latitude.[16][101][108]

Seasonalvariation
ForashortperiodfromMarchtoMay2004,largecloudsappearedintheUranianatmosphere,givingita
Neptunelikeappearance.[105][109]Observationsincludedrecordbreakingwindspeedsof229m/s(824km/h)
andapersistentthunderstormreferredtoas"FourthofJulyfireworks".[100]OnAugust23,2006,researchersat
theSpaceScienceInstitute(Boulder,Colorado)andtheUniversityofWisconsinobservedadarkspoton
Uranus'ssurface,givingscientistsmoreinsightintoUranus'satmosphericactivity.[106]Whythissudden
upsurgeinactivityoccurredisnotfullyknown,butitappearsthatUranus'sextremeaxialtiltresultsinextreme
seasonalvariationsinitsweather.[52][107]Determiningthenatureofthisseasonalvariationisdifficultbecause
gooddataonUranus'satmospherehaveexistedforlessthan84years,oronefullUranianyear.Photometry
overthecourseofhalfaUranianyear(beginninginthe1950s)hasshownregularvariationinthebrightnessin
twospectralbands,withmaximaoccurringatthesolsticesandminimaoccurringattheequinoxes.[110]A
similarperiodicvariation,withmaximaatthesolstices,hasbeennotedinmicrowavemeasurementsofthe
deeptropospherebeguninthe1960s.[111]Stratospherictemperaturemeasurementsbeginninginthe1970salso
showedmaximumvaluesnearthe1986solstice.[79]Themajorityofthisvariabilityisthoughttooccurowingto
changesintheviewinggeometry.[104]

Uranusin2005.Rings,
southerncollarandabright
cloudinthenorthern
hemispherearevisible(HST
ACSimage).

TherearesomeindicationsthatphysicalseasonalchangesarehappeninginUranus.AlthoughUranusisknown
tohaveabrightsouthpolarregion,thenorthpoleisfairlydim,whichisincompatiblewiththemodelofthe
seasonalchangeoutlinedabove.[107]Duringitspreviousnorthernsolsticein1944,Uranusdisplayedelevated
levelsofbrightness,whichsuggeststhatthenorthpolewasnotalwayssodim.[110]Thisinformationimplies
thatthevisiblepolebrightenssometimebeforethesolsticeanddarkensaftertheequinox.[107]Detailedanalysisofthevisibleandmicrowave
datarevealedthattheperiodicalchangesofbrightnessarenotcompletelysymmetricalaroundthesolstices,whichalsoindicatesachangein
themeridionalalbedopatterns.[107]Inthe1990s,asUranusmovedawayfromitssolstice,Hubbleandgroundbasedtelescopesrevealedthat
thesouthpolarcapdarkenednoticeably(exceptthesoutherncollar,whichremainedbright),[102]whereasthenorthernhemisphere

demonstratedincreasingactivity,[100]suchascloudformationsandstrongerwinds,bolsteringexpectationsthatitshouldbrightensoon.[105]
Thisindeedhappenedin2007whenitpassedanequinox:afaintnorthernpolarcollararose,andthesoutherncollarbecamenearlyinvisible,
althoughthezonalwindprofileremainedslightlyasymmetric,withnorthernwindsbeingsomewhatslowerthansouthern.[103]
Themechanismofthesephysicalchangesisstillnotclear.[107]Nearthesummerandwintersolstices,Uranus'shemispheresliealternately
eitherinfullglareoftheSun'sraysorfacingdeepspace.Thebrighteningofthesunlithemisphereisthoughttoresultfromthelocalthickening
ofthemethanecloudsandhazelayerslocatedinthetroposphere.[102]Thebrightcollarat45latitudeisalsoconnectedwithmethane
clouds.[102]Otherchangesinthesouthernpolarregioncanbeexplainedbychangesinthelowercloudlayers.[102]Thevariationofthe
microwaveemissionfromUranusisprobablycausedbychangesinthedeeptroposphericcirculation,becausethickpolarcloudsandhazemay
inhibitconvection.[112]NowthatthespringandautumnequinoxesarearrivingonUranus,thedynamicsarechangingandconvectioncan
occuragain.[100][112]

Formation
Manyarguethatthedifferencesbetweentheicegiantsandthegasgiantsextendtotheirformation.[113][114]TheSolarSystemishypothesized
tohaveformedfromagiantrotatingballofgasanddustknownasthepresolarnebula.Muchofthenebula'sgas,primarilyhydrogenand
helium,formedtheSun,andthedustgrainscollectedtogethertoformthefirstprotoplanets.Astheplanetsgrew,someofthemeventually
accretedenoughmatterfortheirgravitytoholdontothenebula'sleftovergas.[113][114]Themoregastheyheldonto,thelargertheybecame
thelargertheybecame,themoregastheyheldontountilacriticalpointwasreached,andtheirsizebegantoincreaseexponentially.Theice
giants,withonlyafewEarthmassesofnebulargas,neverreachedthatcriticalpoint.[113][114][115]Recentsimulationsofplanetarymigration
havesuggestedthatbothicegiantsformedclosertotheSunthantheirpresentpositions,andmovedoutwardsafterformation(theNice
model).[113]

Moons
Uranushas27knownnaturalsatellites.[115]ThenamesofthesesatellitesarechosenfromcharactersintheworksofShakespeareand
AlexanderPope.[59][116]ThefivemainsatellitesareMiranda,Ariel,Umbriel,Titania,andOberon.[59]TheUraniansatellitesystemistheleast
massiveamongthoseofthegiantplanetsthecombinedmassofthefivemajorsatelliteswouldbelessthanhalfthatofTriton(largestmoonof
Neptune)alone.[9]ThelargestofUranus'ssatellites,Titania,hasaradiusofonly788.9km,orlessthanhalfthatoftheMoon,butslightlymore
thanRhea,thesecondlargestsatelliteofSaturn,makingTitaniatheeighthlargestmoonintheSolarSystem.Uranus'ssatelliteshaverelatively
lowalbedosrangingfrom0.20forUmbrielto0.35forAriel(ingreenlight).[15]Theyareicerockconglomeratescomposedofroughly50%
iceand50%rock.Theicemayincludeammoniaandcarbondioxide.[85][117]

AmongtheUraniansatellites,Arielappearstohavethe
youngestsurfacewiththefewestimpactcratersandUmbriel's
theoldest.[15][85]Mirandahasfaultcanyons20kilometresdeep,
terracedlayers,andachaoticvariationinsurfaceagesand
features.[15]Miranda'spastgeologicactivityisthoughttohave
MajormoonsofUranusinorderof
beendrivenbytidalheatingatatimewhenitsorbitwasmore
increasingdistance(lefttoright),at
eccentricthancurrently,probablyasaresultofaformer3:1
theirproperrelativesizesandalbedos
(collageofVoyager2photographs)
orbitalresonancewithUmbriel.[118]Extensionalprocesses
associatedwithupwellingdiapirsarethelikelyoriginof
Miranda's'racetrack'likecoronae.[119][120]Arielisthoughttohaveoncebeenheldina4:1resonance
withTitania.[121]
UranushasatleastonehorseshoeorbiteroccupyingtheSunUranusL3Lagrangianpointa
gravitationallyunstableregionat180initsorbit,83982Crantor.[122][123]Crantormovesinside
Uranus'scoorbitalregiononacomplex,temporaryhorseshoeorbit.2010EU65isalsoapromising

TheUranusSystem(NACO/VLT
image)

Uranushorseshoelibratorcandidate.[123]

Exploration
In1986,NASA'sVoyager2interplanetaryprobeencounteredUranus.ThisflybyremainstheonlyinvestigationofUranuscarriedoutfroma
shortdistanceandnoothervisitsareplanned.Launchedin1977,Voyager2madeitsclosestapproachtoUranusonJanuary24,1986,coming
within81,500kilometresofthecloudtops,beforecontinuingitsjourneytoNeptune.Thespacecraftstudiedthestructureandchemical
compositionofUranus'satmosphere,[71]includingitsuniqueweather,causedbyitsaxialtiltof97.77.Itmadethefirstdetailedinvestigations
ofitsfivelargestmoonsanddiscovered10newones.Itexaminedallnineofthesystem'sknownringsanddiscoveredtwomore.[15][85][124]It
alsostudiedthemagneticfield,itsirregularstructure,itstiltanditsuniquecorkscrewmagnetotailcausedbyUranus'ssidewaysorientation.[93]
Voyager1wasunablevisitUranusbecauseinvestigationofSaturn'smoonTitanwasconsideredvital.ThistrajectorytookVoyager1outthe
planeoftheecliptic,endingitsplanetarysciencemission.[125]:118
ThepossibilityofsendingtheCassinispacecraftfromSaturntoUranuswasevaluatedduringamissionextensionplanningphasein2009.[126]
ItwouldtakeabouttwentyyearstogettotheUraniansystemafterdepartingSaturn.[126]AUranusorbiterandprobewasrecommendedbythe
20132022PlanetaryScienceDecadalSurveypublishedin2011theproposalenvisageslaunchduring20202023anda13yearcruiseto
Uranus.[127]AUranusentryprobecouldusePioneerVenusMultiprobeheritageanddescendto15atmospheres.[127]TheESAevaluateda

"mediumclass"missioncalledUranusPathfinder.[128]ANewFrontiersUranusOrbiterhasbeenevaluatedand
recommendedinthestudy,TheCaseforaUranusOrbiter.[129]Suchamissionisaidedbytheeasewithwhich
arelativelybigmasscanbesenttothesystemover1500kgwithanAtlas521and12yearjourney.[130]For
moreconceptsseeProposedUranusmissions.

Inculture
Inastrology,theplanetUranus( )istherulingplanetofAquarius.BecauseUranusiscyanandUranusis
associatedwithelectricity,thecolourelectricblue,whichisclosetocyan,isassociatedwiththesign
Aquarius[131](seeUranusinastrology).
Thechemicalelementuranium,discoveredin1789bytheGermanchemistMartinHeinrichKlaproth,was
namedafterthenewlydiscoveredplanetUranus.[132]

CrescentUranusasimaged
byVoyager2whileenroute
toNeptune

"Uranus,theMagician"isamovementinGustavHolst'sThePlanets,writtenbetween1914and1916.
OperationUranuswasthesuccessfulmilitaryoperationinWorldWarIIbytheSovietarmytotakebackStalingradandmarkedtheturning
pointinthelandwaragainsttheWehrmacht.
Thelines"ThenfeltIlikesomewatcheroftheskies/Whenanewplanetswimsintohisken",fromJohnKeats's"OnFirstLookingInto
Chapman'sHomer",areareferencetoHerschel'sdiscoveryofUranus.[133]

Seealso
2011QF99,theonlyknownUranustrojan
ColonizationofUranus
Uranusinastrology
Uranusinfiction

Notes
a.ThesearethemeanelementsfromVSOP87,togetherwithderivedquantities.
b.Referstothelevelof1baratmosphericpressure.
c.CalculatedusingdatafromSeidelmann,2007.[8]

d.CalculationofHe,H2andCH4molarfractionsisbasedona2.3%mixingratioofmethanetohydrogenandthe15/85He/H2proportionsmeasuredat
thetropopause.
e.Because,intheEnglishspeakingworld,thelattersoundslike"youranus",theformerpronunciationalsosavesembarrassment:asPamelaGay,an
astronomeratSouthernIllinoisUniversityEdwardsville,notedonherpodcast,toavoid"beingmadefunofbyanysmallschoolchildren...whenin
doubt,don'temphasiseanythingandjustsay/jrns/.Andthenrun,quickly."[32]
f.Cf. (notsupportedbyallfonts)
g.Cf. (notsupportedbyallfonts)
h.Mixingratioisdefinedasthenumberofmoleculesofacompoundperamoleculeofhydrogen.

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letterstomeapprovingthisdesignation.Inmyview,itisnecessarytofollowthemythologyinthiselection,whichhadbeenborrowedfromtheancient
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131.Parker,DerekandJuliaAquarius.PlanetaryZodiacLibrary.NewYork:MitchellBeazley/BallantineBook.1972.p.14.
132."Uranium".TheAmericanHeritageDictionaryoftheEnglishLanguage(4thed.).HoughtonMifflinCompany.RetrievedApril20,2010.
133."OnFirstLookingIntoChapman'sHomer".CityUniversityofNewYork.2009.Retrieved20111029.

Furtherreading
Miner,EllisD.(1998).Uranus:ThePlanet,RingsandSatellites.NewYork:JohnWileyandSons.ISBN9780471973980.
Bode,JohannElert(1784).VondemneuentdecktenPlaneten.Verfasser.

Externallinks
Uranus(http://sci.esa.int/sciencee/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=35653)atEuropeanSpace
Agency
NASA'sUranusfactsheet(http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/uranusfact.html)
UranusProfile(http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Uranus)atNASA'sSolar
SystemExplorationsite(http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/)
PlanetsUranus(http://www.projectshum.org/Planets/uranus.html)Akid'sguidetoUranus.

Wikiquotehasquotations
relatedto:Uranus

Uranus(http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/targetFamily/Uranus)atJetPropulsionLaboratory'splanetaryphotojournal.(photos)
VoyageratUranus(http://www.ciclops.org/ir_index/81/Voyager_at_Uranus)(photos)
Uranus(AstronomyCasthomepage)(http://www.astronomycast.com/astronomy/episode62uranus/)(blog)
Uraniansystemmontage(http://www.solarviews.com/raw/uranus/urfamily.jpg)(photo)
Gray,MeghanMerrifield,Michael(2010)."Uranus".SixtySymbols.BradyHaranfortheUniversityofNottingham.
Retrievedfrom"https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Uranus&oldid=708121672"
Categories: Uranus Astronomicalobjectsdiscoveredin1781 Giantplanets Flamsteedobjects
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