Hydrogen Sulfide makes Uranus smell like Rotten Eggs

Uranus is not a great planet as the name sounds. There are a lot of smelly activities going around the planet of Uranus. Uranus has clouds in the upper atmosphere which is mainly composed of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is the stinky molecule that imparts a weird smell to rotten eggs. A study conducted by Patrick Irwin of the Oxford University in England showed that if ever humans would descend through the atmosphere of Uranus, they would experience an odiferous and unpleasant condition.

The smell alone is not the problem, a person landing on Uranus will be exposed to a minus 200 degrees Celsius atmosphere that is mainly composed of methane, helium, and hydrogen. These will cause suffocation and other respiratory problems even before the smell takes a toll on a person.

The atmosphere composition of the Uranus has been a topic of research for scientists for a long time. The main doubt was whether they are dominated by ammonia ice, like the Saturn or Jupiter, or by ice of hydrogen sulfide. The answer was so helpful, as it was tough to make observations with detail on the Uranus. Saturn and Jupiter are closer to Earth and missions have been hosted dedicating the orbit. Uranus has been visited only once in 1986 by the Voyager 2 of NASA.

Patrick and his fellow scientists have studied Uranus’s air by using the (NIFS) Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrometer, an instrument on the 8 meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii. The NIFS scrutinized sunlight which is reflected from the atmosphere just above the cloud tops of Uranus. This is how the Hydrogen sulfide signature was spotted.

Saturated vapor is found only in tiny amounts above the clouds. And this is the reason why it is difficult to capture ammonia and hydrogen sulfide signatures above the clouds of Uranus. It is the superior capabilities of the telescope that finally led to the real discovery.

The research found that Neptune also has clouds similar to that of Uranus. A big difference that can be spotted between the clouds of these two planets and between Neptune and Uranus might trace back to the formative environment of the worlds. Neptune and Uranus coalesced very far from the sun than the other two gas giants. During the formation of the solar system, the balance between sulfur and nitrogen, and hence Uranus’s hydrogen sulfide and ammonia was determined by the location and temperature conditions of the planet’s formation.