Uranus is the first of the ice giant planets. Its atmosphere, like Saturn and Jupiter’s, is filled with hydrogen and helium, but Uranus’ atmosphere also has high amounts of methane that gives the planet its blue tint as the light reflects off its cold tops.
Like Venus, Uranus rotates east to west, and a single rotation takes a little over 17 Earth hours. The planet has unique axis tilt that causes the planet to appear as if it is rotating on its side. Uranus takes 84 Earth years to complete a single orbit around the Sun. Two sets of rings encircle the planet, with the inner set being narrow and dark and the outer ring, unseen until 2003, is brightly colored.
Uranus has not been an object of significant study by scientists. Most of what is known about Uranus was gathered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1986, the only spacecraft to visit the planet. Other research of the planet has largely been performed with images gathered by the Hubble Telescope.
(Text by Noel Kirkpatrick)