Uranus’ clear atmosphere

Uranus’ clear atmosphere

. When viewed through a telescope, Uranus is a clear, featureless ball (left). Its blue-green color results from the absorption of red light by methane gas in the deep, cold atmosphere. An exaggerated false-color image (right) brings out subtle details in the polar regions of Uranus. A thin reddish-brown haze obscures the south pole (right center), perhaps due to chemical reactions of ultraviolet sunlight with methane. Progressively lighter concentric bands may be attributed to zonal motions in the upper atmosphere, which circulates in the same direction as the planet rotates. These Voyager 2 images were taken on 17 January 1986. (Courtesy of NASA and JPL.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University