The Weather Forecast For The Other Planets In The Solar System
Meteorology also deals with the extraterrestrial. We live in an extremely privileged place if we compare it with other planets in our solar system.
One hundred and sixty years ago, a disturbed English seaman discovered that the world’s weather could be predicted. Thanks to him it was possible to prevent thousands of shipwrecks from storms and tides and, in the long term, warn the common citizen against the capricious changes in the weather. Today it is possible to forecast the weather on all of the planets in the solar system, and even of some of those that are farther away. There is now, for the first time, a meteorological map of a planet outside our solar system, and there are scientists who spend their time observing, through space telescopes, the small and not so small changes that take place in extraterrestrial atmospheres, to then compare them with our own to work out whether there is the possibility of life outside this pale blue dot. And that is weird enough to be fascinating.
Among the planetary climates there appears to be a trend: cloudy mornings that clear by midday, followed by a sweltering heat during the entire afternoon. But this is the general forecast for all of our sister planets.
The baby of our solar system is the closest to the sun. Mercury has no atmosphere, so its weather forecast is insipid. However, its rotation is so slow that it completes three ‘days’ every two years. When it is closest to the sun the surface temperature can reach more than 430°C and at night can drop below -180°C.
The planet associated with Aphrodite and with the feminine gender in general, Venus is the hottest of all planets and second from the sun: a broken sphere under a suffocating cloud of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulfuric acid. Seeing the glitter of the sun’s rays is not likely. Damp and sticky do not even begin to describe the experience of being bathed in sweat with 92 times the atmospheric pressure of earth, although there is occasionally a more refreshing temperature of 480°C. The rain is almost purely of sulfuric acid and which, obviously, corrodes everything it touches.
Expect blue dawns and sunsets on the red planet. Sandstorms and dust on the horizon and dry ice (formed from carbon dioxide, as shown above) across the planet.
Immense Jupiter is a gas planet and emits more heat than it receives from the sun. Rain and storms are very likely, with winds of up to 360km/h. But above all, Jupiter is buffeted by a hurricane that has been blowing for 300 years. The so-called ‘red stain’, featured above, is a whirlwind of gusts that blow anti-clockwise and could swallow two planets the size of earth.
The sixth planet from the sun, Saturn is also made of gas. It is not a hospitable place, with winds of up to 1,800km/h, temperatures of up to 14,727°C and an ice cap that is 10km thick. Cloudy days are expected, formed by ammonia, hydrogen and helium. Every 30 years, a mega storm called the Great White Stain brews. Best avoided.
Meteorological inclemency and storms are expected on this ice and gas planet, which is the seventh from the sun. However, some blue methanol clouds could be seen floating across the icy territory, forming a memorable vista.
The blue planet – the farthest from the sun – is also, appropriately, the coldest, with temperatures as low as -224°C. It is composed of gas but its heart is made of ice. Weather similar to that of Uranus is expected, but more extreme. Winds can pack up to 2,100km/h. Beautiful at moonrise.
Main: Jupiter’s Red Stain
All images courtesy of NASA
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