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News Release Archive:

News Release 92 of 178

March 29, 1999 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1999-11

Huge Spring Storms Rouse Uranus from Winter Hibernation

March 29, 1999: 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 the Hubble 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 deep in the planet's atmosphere.

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Credit: NASA, Eric Karkoschka (Univ. of Arizona), Heidi Hammell (MIT), and STScI