Zooming Around with Zoe: Weather on Jupiter

Weather

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — We have now zoomed past the asteroid belt and jumped to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.  It has some of the most fascinating weather I’ve ever seen.  Let’s check it out.

Not only the biggest, but the fastest spinning planet as well, a day on Jupiter only lasts 10 hours. However, a year on Jupiter, is much longer, about 12 Earth years.

Since it’s a gas giant composed of mainly hydrogen and helium, it would be impossible to stand on the surface of Jupiter – because there is no solid surface. If you were able to stand on the cloud tops of Jupiter, temperatures would be around minus 234 degrees F. But, because of it’s extreme pressure, the further down you go, the hotter it gets, with Jupiter’s core possibly hotter than the surface of the sun at 43,000 degrees F.

Jupiter looks like a tapestry of bands and spots covered by clouds, most likely formed by sulfuric gases rising from its interior. It’s extremely fast rotation creates strong jet streams, which separate the clouds into belts. Each belt is a different storm system, moving at different speeds, with winds ranging from 190 to over 400 mph.

Although shrinking, the largest storm in the solar system — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — is nearly twice as wide as Earth and at least 150 years old, if not closer to 300.  Even though it’s so old, the spot is still a mystery to scientists who don’t know what causes its red hue, or why it has been going on for so long.

In case you didn’t know, even more cool weather can be found on Jupiter’s 60 moons, each with its own unique conditions.

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