Friday, October 19, 2012

Keck observations reveal complex face of Uranus

Keck observations reveal complex face of Uranus: "The planet Uranus, known since Voyager’s 1986 flyby as a bland, featureless blue-green orb, is beginning to show its face.

By using a new technique with the telescopes of the Keck Observatory, astronomers have created the most richly detailed, highest-resolution images ever taken of the giant ice planet in the near infrared, revealing an incredible array of atmospheric detail and more complex weather.

The planet, in fact, looks like many of the solar system’s other large planets — the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giant Neptune — said Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the team members. The planet has bands of circulating clouds, massive swirling hurricanes and an unusual swarm of convective features at its north pole."