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Space Science

Scientists Discover That Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs (space.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: According to a study published in Nature Astronomy, scientists have determined that the atmosphere of Uranus smells like rotten eggs. The smell of Uranus was determined by the use of an Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS), an instrument that allows scientists to determine what an atmosphere is composed of based upon the reflections of sunlight that bounce off of it. Specifically, the clouds in Uranus' upper atmosphere consist of hydrogen sulfide, the molecule that makes rotten eggs so stinky. "If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus' clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions," study lead author Patrick Irwin, of Oxford University in England, said in a statement. But that wayward pioneer would have bigger problems, he added: "Suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius [minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit] atmosphere, made of mostly hydrogen, helium, and methane, would take its toll long before the smell."
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Scientists Discover That Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    So Professor Farnsworth finally built his smelloscope.

  • Oh my (Score:5, Funny)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2018 @06:05AM (#56498899)

    The amount of jokes stemming from this article is endless.
    Still, cool science, quite literally.

  • NIFS? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why didn't they make the acronym SNIF?

  • When they say Uranus smells like that, who's exactly? Certainly not mine.
    • by Mjlner ( 609829 )

      When they say Uranus smells like that, who's exactly?

      Well, I am exactly. Aren't you?

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2018 @07:20AM (#56499049)

    If the H2S concentration is high enough to mask some of the composition on the underlying layers it would most certainly paralise your sense of smell instantly, something that happens as low as 100ppm concentrations.

    Uranus smells of nothing. Which frankly is far more plesant than most jokes would suggest.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's odd that the Oxford scholars didn't mention the toxicity of hydrogen sulfide, but mention suffocation from inhalation of methane and the effects of low temperatures. Although the odor can be detected at very minute concentrations, (around 0.000047 ppm) it's about as poisonous as cyanide at about 360 ppm. Suppression of the sense of smell doesn't happen instantaneously, and many deaths have occurred because victims who noticed the odor thought the gas had dissipated when they could no longer smell it.

      • by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2018 @08:30AM (#56499269)
        Came to say this. H2S at around 100 ppm can/will deaden the sense of smell. Usually, the lack of instantaneous loss of olfactory functions can be attributed to the gradual increase in concentration of H2S in a given area during an incident.

        But I guess saying Uranus smells like a bag of farts is more entertaining than actual science.
        • "But I guess saying Uranus smells like a bag of farts is more entertaining than actual science."

          Agreed. I smell fake news.

  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by SCVonSteroids ( 2816091 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2018 @07:22AM (#56499057)

    Depends what I ate.

  • Hooray for this story! Now, it's time for my morning dump so I'll be proving them right.
  • Cloudn't they use a Spectrometer for Near-Infrared Integral Field? (SNIF)
  • ... the exhaust of a car with a catalytic converter.

  • I don't know who started this rumour, but if I ever find out, I'll see them in court!!!
  • Two editors, one shark.

    Who can jump it better?

  • I'm pretty sure my sense of smell doesn't function at -200 C.

  • In 2620, to end that stupid joke once and for all, scientists will finally rename the planet to Urectum.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      In 2620, to end that stupid joke once and for all, scientists will finally rename the planet to Urectum.

      Joke of 2621: "Damn you scientists! I had great jokes about the planet, but Urectum."

  • Uranus smells like your anus. Who wouldda thought.

  • Something about a game warden and ducks....

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