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Fw: NUFOIA: Spring Storms Rouse Uranus From Winter Hibernation

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  • Jeroen Kumeling
    ... From: Ndunlks@aol.com To: undisclosed-recipients:; Subject: NUFOIA: Spring Storms Rouse Uranus From Winter Hibernation Date: vrijdag, 2. april 1999 8:22
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 1999
      From: Ndunlks@...
      To: undisclosed-recipients:;
      Subject: NUFOIA: Spring Storms Rouse Uranus From Winter Hibernation
      Date: vrijdag, 2. april 1999 8:22

      Source: National Aeronautics And Space Administration
      Posted 4/1/99

      Huge Spring Storms Rouse Uranus From Winter Hibernation

      If springtime on Earth were anything like it will be on Uranus, we would be

      experiencing waves of massive storms, each one covering the country from
      Kansas to New York, with temperatures of 300 degrees below zero.

      A dramatic new time-lapse movie by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows for
      the first time seasonal changes on the planet. Once considered one of the
      blander-looking planets, Uranus is now revealed as a dynamic world with the

      brightest clouds in the outer Solar System and a fragile ring system that
      wobbles like an unbalanced wagon wheel. The clouds are probably made of
      crystals of methane, which condense as warm bubbles of gas well up from
      in the atmosphere of Uranus.

      The movie, created by Hubble researcher Erich Karkoschka of the University
      Arizona, clearly shows for the first time the wobble in the ring system,
      which is made of billions of tiny pebbles. This wobble may be caused by
      Uranus' shape, which is like a slightly flattened globe, along with the
      gravitational tug from its many moons.

      Although Uranus has been observed for more than 200 years, "no one has ever

      seen this view in the modern era of astronomy because of the long year of
      Uranus -- more than 84 Earth years," said Dr. Heidi Hammel, Massachusetts
      Institute of Technology.

      The seasonal changes on Earth are caused by our planet's rotational pole
      being slightly tilted. Consequently, the Earth's Southern and Northern
      hemispheres are alternately tipped toward or away from the Sun as the Earth

      moves around its orbit. Uranus is tilted completely over on its side,
      rise to extreme 20- year-long seasons and unusual weather. For nearly a
      quarter of the Uranian year, the sun shines directly over each pole,
      the other half of the planet plunged into a long, dark, frigid winter.

      The Northern Hemisphere of Uranus is just now coming out of the grip of its

      decades-long winter. As the sunlight reaches some latitudes, it warms the
      atmosphere. This appears to be causing the atmosphere to come out of a
      hibernation and stir back to life. Uranus does not have a solid surface,
      is instead a ball of mostly hydrogen and helium. Absorption of red light by

      methane in the atmosphere gives the planet its cyan color.

      Uranus was discovered March 13, 1781, by William Herschel. Early visual
      observers reported Jupiter-like cloud belts on the planet, but when NASA's
      Voyager 2 flew by in 1986, Uranus appeared as featureless as a cue ball. In

      the past 13 years, the planet has moved far enough along its orbit for the
      sun to shine at mid- latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. By the year
      the sun will be shining directly over Uranus' equator.

      Karkoschka, Hammel and other investigators used Hubble from 1994 through
      to take images of Uranus in both visible and near-infrared light.

      The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association of
      Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. for NASA, under contract with
      NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble Space
      is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European

      - end -

      NOTE TO EDITORS: The Uranus movie will air on NASA Television, Monday March

      29 during the noon video file. NASA Television is broadcast on the GE2
      satellite located on transponder 9C, at 85 degrees West longitude,
      3880.0 MHz, audio 6.8 MHz. The movie is also available on the Internet at:



      Editor's Note: The original news release can be found at

      Copyright � 1995-98 ScienceDaily Magazine | Email: editor@...

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