CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - 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 smell 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 Space.com. The answer has proved elusive, because it's tough to make observations with the required detail on distant Uranus, Space.com reports.
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.
"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 byTime.com.