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LET'S EXPLORE Space

A trip across the Solar System: Uranus

A photo of Uranus showing clouds and ringsA photo of Uranus showing clouds and ringsUranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and the third largest planet in the Solar System. It is named after the Greek god of the sky. A gas giant, Uranus has almost no surface features on its blue-green globe. Like Saturn, it has a family of rings. There are 11 thin rings in total, darker and much less spectacular than Saturn’s. Uranus is tilted on its side. This means that, as it orbits the Sun, first one pole then the other faces the Sun for 42 continuous years. Each pole has therefore 42 years of sunlight followed by 42 years of night.



Ariel (top) and Miranda (above)Ariel (top) and Miranda (above)

Moons

Uranus has 27 moons. Two are pictured here. Ariel is marked by long valleys, some up to 30 kilometres (20 miles) deep. These are caused by faulting

Miranda, only 470 kilometres (292 miles) across, is covered with an amazing variety of features. They include strange grooves: some are shaped like ovals, while one is V-shaped. There is an enormous cliff that is 20 kilometres (12 miles) high—well over twice the height of Earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Astronomers think that Miranda was once blasted apart, then came back together again as a lumpy ball of mixed-up fragments. 

A view of Miranda's landscapeA view of Miranda's landscape

Uranus was the first planet to be discovered using a telescope.

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