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Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs, Say Scientists

Scientists: Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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FILE - Arriving at Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 observed a bluish orb with extremely subtle features. A haze layer hid most of the planet's cloud features from view.
FILE - Arriving at Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 observed a bluish orb with extremely subtle features. A haze layer hid most of the planet's cloud features from view. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) VOA
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It’s a punchline that sends every 12-year-old boy into a fit of giggles. Now it has been proven to be true. Uranus stinks!

Scientists using a huge telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano found the seventh planet from the sun is surrounded by clouds made up of hydrogen sulfide, the gas that smells like rotten eggs and bad flatulence.

The study by scientists from the California Institute of Technology, University of Oxford and the University of Leicester was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’ clouds they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions,” Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford wrote.

Representational image of Uranus.
Representational image. Pixabay

Not that they would live long enough to sniff it. “Suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius atmosphere made of mostly hydrogen, helium and methane would take its toll long before the smell,” Irwin wrote.

Despite previous observations by ground telescopes and the Voyager 2 spacecraft, scientists had failed to determine the composition of Uranus’ atmosphere.

Also Read: Astronomers searching for a real ninth planet

The new data was obtained by using a spectrometer on the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii. It should help scientists better understand the formation of Uranus and other outer planets.  VOA

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Scientists Try To Map Animal Genes To Save Them From Extinction Down the Line

The project has similarities with the Earth BioGenome Project, which seeks to catalog the genomes for 1.5 million species.

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This undated photo provided by NOAA Fisheries, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows alewives, a species of river herring in North Kingstown, R.I. The federal government's National Marine Fisheries Service is looking at the health of the populations of alewives and blueback herring to see if the little fish should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. VOA

A group of scientists unveiled the first results Thursday of an ambitious effort to map the genes of tens of thousands of animal species, a project they said could help save animals from extinction down the line.

The scientists are working with the Genome 10,000 consortium on the Vertebrate Genomes Project, which is seeking to map the genomes of all 66,000 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish on Earth. Genome 10,000 has members at more than 50 institutions around the globe, and the Vertebrate Genomes Project last year.

The consortium Thursday released the first 15 such maps, ranging from the Canada lynx to the kakapo, a flightless parrot native to New Zealand.

Future conservation

The genome is the entire set of genetic material that is present in an organism. The release of the first sets is “a statement to the world that what we want to accomplish is indeed feasible,” said Harris Lewin, a professor of evolution at University of California, Davis, who is working on the project.

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The work is intriguing because it could inform future conservation efforts of jeopardized species. VOA

“The time has come, but of course it’s only the beginning,” Lewin said.

The work will help inform future conservation of jeopardized species, scientists working on the project said. The first 14 species to be mapped also include the duck-billed platypus, two bat species and the zebra finch. The zebra finch was the one species for which both sexes were mapped, bringing the total to 15.

Sequencing the genome of tens of thousands of animals could easily take 10 years, said Sadye Paez, program director for the project. But giving scientists access to this kind of information could help save rare species because it would give conservationists and biologists a new set of tools, she said.

Paez described the project as an effort to “essentially communicate a library of life.”

Three sequencing hubs

Tanya Lama, a doctoral candidate in environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, coordinated the effort to sequence the lynx genome. The wild cat is the subject of debate about its conservation status in the United States, and better understanding of genetics can better protect its future, Lama said.

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Genome 10,000 has members at more than 50 institutions around the globe, and the Vertebrate Genomes Project last year. Pixabay

“It’s going to help us plan for the future, help us generate tools for monitoring population health, and help us inform conservation strategy,” she said.

The project has three “genome sequencing hubs,” including Rockefeller University in New York, the Sanger Institute outside Cambridge, England, and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, organizers said.

The work is intriguing because it could inform future conservation efforts of jeopardized species, said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity who is not involved in the project. More information about animals’ genetics could lead to better understanding of how animals resist disease or cope with changes in the environment, she said.

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Sequencing the genome of tens of thousands of animals could easily take 10 years, said Sadye Paez, program director for the project. Pixabay

“I think what’s interesting to me from a conservation aspect is just what we might be able to discern about the genetic diversity within a species,” Matteson said.

Also Read: British Scientists Use Sunlight And Convert it to Fuel

The project has similarities with the Earth BioGenome Project, which seeks to catalog the genomes for 1.5 million species. Lewin chairs that project’s working group. The Vertebrate Genomes Project will contribute to that effort. (VOA)