This is a diagram of diffusion in the Uranian atmosphere.
Click on image for full size
Diffusion in Uranus Atmosphere
The major gaseous constituent of the atmosphere is methane. At the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere, near the thermosphere
, methane gas breaks apart due to the influence of energetic photons or charged particles from the magnetosphere and the remnants combine with other gases to form more sophisticated atmospheric constituents such as ethane gas, acetylene, and diacetylene. These gases are heavier, and so move down in the atmosphere.
In regions of the atmosphere such as the stratosphere, where the temperature is cooler, these gases condense to form haze. At even lower altitudes clouds of methane, ethane, acetylene, and diacetylene form. At the bottom of the atmosphere, where the temperature warms significantly and transitions to the Uranian interior, the condensed crystals evaporate and devolve into the constituent methane and other parts. Methane returns to the top of the atmosphere by diffusion. This perpetual breakdown and assembly of methane and ethane is part of the evolution of Uranus and affects its weather.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Besides methane, Uranus' atmosphere contains more sophisticated atmospheric molecules such as ethane gas, acetylene, and diacetylene. All these molecules form layers of haze at different altitudes high...more
The methane cloud deck of Uranus is found low in the troposphere. The methane clouds are the only clouds to be found on Uranus. The location of the clouds is predicted based upon the temperature at which...more
In general, the weather on earth can be described in the following way: in response to incoming energy from the sun, the air rises at the equator and drifts to the poles where it is colder. Because Uranus...more
The mesosphere of Uranus is a region of balance between warming and cooling. That essentially means that nothing happens there. Except for diffusion, the atmosphere is still. Upper reaches of the atmosphere,...more
As on Earth, the atmosphere of Uranus consists of a troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The troposphere is the region where the visible clouds are to be found. The stratosphere, as...more
On Uranus, as on Jupiter, the winds in the belts and zones blow first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Wind blows east in a belt, and west in a zone. The clouds rise up in a belt, and...more
The striped cloud bands on Uranus, like Jupiter, are divided into belts and zones. On Uranus the belts and zones are hard to distinquish. The left picture shows the north pole of Uranus. In this picture...more