NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration say they have evidence of a polar cyclone on the planet Uranus. They say the findings came from research that started back in 2015 at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro.

NASA says the findings confirm a truth about planets with a substantial atmosphere – planets, whether they are made up mostly of rock or gas, swirling vortexes appear at their poles. According to a press release, NASA’s Voyager 2 captured images of methane cloud tops at the planet’s southern pole showing winds at the polar center spinning faster than over the rest of the pole.

The radio antenna dishes at the VLA looked below Uranus’s clouds and found that the circulating air at its north pole seemed to be warmer and drier, which are signs of a strong cyclone. Data from the VLA was collected in 2015, 2021, and 2022.

“These observations tell us a lot more about the story of Uranus. It’s a much more dynamic world than you might think,” said lead author Alex Akins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “It isn’t just a plain blue ball of gas. There’s a lot happening under the hood.”

NASA says with these new findings of Uranus, cyclones (or anti-cyclones) have been discovered at the poles of every planet in our solar system except Mercury, which doesn’t have a substantial atmosphere. Cyclones, like the ones found on Uranus and Saturn, aren’t formed over water and don’t drift from the poles, unlike cyclones found on Earth.