Scientists now know how Uranus smells. Rotten eggs is the polite way to say it.

Uranus smells like rotten eggs, according to research released this week. But the cold will kill you before the smell does.
Uranus smells like rotten eggs, according to research released this week. But the cold will kill you before the smell does.

All jokes aside, Uranus smells like rotten eggs.

That's the conclusion of a group of scientists who recently released a study of the planet's atmosphere, although they used bigger words to describe the "gaseous" smell.

The study was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy and it established the chemical composition of Uranus’ upper cloud deck is "deep bulk sulfur/nitrogen."

In other words, "Uranus smells like farts," as multiple media outlets put it this week.

“If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’s clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odoriferous conditions,” study co-author Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford told to the BBC.

Researchers have long wondered about the composition of the clouds high up in Uranus' sky — specifically, whether they're dominated by ammonia ice, as at Jupiter and Saturn, or by hydrogen sulfide ice, reported The answer has proved elusive, because it's tough to make observations with the required detail on distant Uranus, reports.

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The scientists made the discovery by looking at Uranus through a telescope at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and spotted the noxious gas swirling above its clouds, reported ABC.Net.

"We were able to detect the 'fingerprint' of (hydrogen sulphide) in the light reflected from Uranus's clouds," Irwin told ABC.Net. "From the strength of the fingerprint, we were able to figure out how much (hydrogen sulphide) is present at the cloud tops."

That's the same gas that gives rotten eggs their distinctive, noxious scent.

However, human travelers to the planet would likely have other things to worry about, say researchers.

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“Suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius (-392 Fahrenheit) atmosphere… would take its toll long before the smell,” Irwin was quoted as saying by

The discovery is considered valuable in understanding Uranus' birthplace, evolution and refining models of planetary migrations, reported

NASA responded to reports that “newly declassified” audiotapes revealed astronauts heard “outer-spacey” music as Apollo 10 flew around the far side of the moon in 1969. The agency says audio has been publicly available at the National Archives.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs