Figure 1: James Van Allen (1914â2006). If you watch their behavior in satellite images shown on weather outlets, you will see that they require about one day to rotate. Its winds move backward at the equator, blowing against the planet’s rotation. Figure 10: Storms on Jupiter. Its atmosphere forms from nitrogen too, and to a lesser extent, carbon dioxide, argon, ozone and helium. Pluto (a dwarf planet) may have an appreciable atmosphere, but perhaps only when its highly elliptical orbit is closest to the Sun. The probe continued to make measurements to a pressure of 22 bars but found no other cloud layers before its instruments stopped working. The answer choices weren't provided. Atmospheric motions on the giant planets are dominated by east-west circulation. Saturn is generally bland, in spite of its extremely high wind speeds, and Uranus is featureless (perhaps due to its lack of an internal heat source). Saturn has one anomalous cloud structure that has mystified scientists: a hexagonal wave pattern around the north pole, shown in Figure 6.Â The six sides of the hexagon are each longer than the diameter of Earth. Uranus and Neptune have a lot of methane, but it is mostly frozen, not in the atmosphere. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute; NASA/JPL/University of Arizona). Mars’ Atmosphere: Planet Mars has a very thin atmosphere which is composed of 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon and 1.89% nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water. Even Earth's most powerful winds hit only about 250 miles per hour (400 kilometers per hour). They apparently represent the tops of upward-moving convection currents. The moon and mercury are considered together. Saturn shows similar but much more subdued cloud activity; instead of vivid colors, its clouds have a nearly uniform butterscotch hue (Figure 3). In fact, scientists estimate that it has about three times as much water as Saturn does. Venus looks like a very active planet. More on Neptune›, 8. The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates that measure 1.5 micrometers in diameter, which is what gives the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface.  Mars' climate is quite different from Earth's; Mars has a very thin atmosphere—with its atmospheric density being 1% of Earth's atmospheric density. More on Earth’s atmosphere›, 2. In our solar system all the other planets (and moons) have oxygen within compounds, but there are no other planets with large amounts of oxygen in their atmospheres (which is probably what you really wanted to know). The atmosphere of Jupiter has relative ratios of constituents the sun.  The darker belts are regions where the cooler atmosphere moves downward, completing the convection cycle; they are darker because fewer ammonia clouds mean we can see deeper into the atmosphere, perhaps down to a region of ammonium hydrosulfide (NH4SH) clouds. At the temperatures and pressures of the upper atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, methane remains a gas, but ammonia can condense and freeze. WASP-39b, a hot, bloated, Saturn-like exoplanet (planet outside of our solar system) some 700 light-years away, apparently has a lot of water in its atmosphere. The clouds of Jupiter (Figure 2)Â are among the most spectacular sights in the solar system, much beloved by makers of science-fiction films. Recall from earlier chapters that convection is a process in which liquids, heated from underneath, have regions where hot material rises and cooler material descends. The planet Jupiter chemical composition is similar to sun more than any of the other planets. What makes Earth’s atmosphere special, and how do other planets’ atmospheres compare? The Galileo probe sampled one of the clearest of these dry downdrafts. The white oval is roughly the size of planet Earth, to give you a sense of the huge scale of the weather patterns we are seeing. The blue color, exaggerated with computer processing, is caused by the scattering of sunlight in the planetâs upper atmosphere. As it descended to a pressure of 5 bars, the probe should have passed into a region of frozen water clouds, then below that into clouds of liquid water droplets, perhaps similar to the common clouds of the terrestrial troposphere. Neptune differs from Uranus in its appearance, although their basic atmospheric temperatures are similar. Jupiter likely has three distinct cloud layers (composed of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water) in its "skies" that, taken together, span an altitude range of about 44 miles (71 kilometers). There is no other natural process that we know of that will put significant amounts of oxygen into a planet's atmosphere. In each diagram, the yellow line shows how the temperature (see the scale on the bottom) changes with altitude (see the scale at the left). In Jupiterâs upper atmosphere, photochemical reactions create a variety of fairly complex compounds of hydrogen and carbon that form a thin layer of smog far above the visible clouds. These are atmospheres that arise long after a planet's primary atmosphere has vanished into the ether. Van Allen and his team discovered a belt of highly charged particles surrounding Earth, and these belts now bear his name. Although Venus, Mars, and Titan have similar atmospheric gases, there is nowhere in the solar system besides Earth with an atmosphere able to support life. The planet Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are sometimes called the Gas Giants because so much of the mass of these planets consists of a gaseous atmosphere. ), Figure 3: Saturn over Five Years. Science Writer: We do not know exactly what causes the colors in the clouds of Jupiter. If a planet has a lot of methane in its atmosphere, life is the most likely cause. Below and to the right of the Red Spot is one of the white ovals, which are similar but smaller high-pressure features. In addition, Earth’s atmosphere has been able to contain water in each of its three phases (solid, liquid, and gas), which has been essential for the development of life on the planet. He and his collaborators began using rockets to explore cosmic radiation in Earthâs outer atmosphere. Figure 8 is a remarkable close-up of Neptuneâs outer layers that could never have been obtained from Earth. Within the tropospheres of these planets, the temperature and pressure both increase with depth. Figure 8: High Clouds in the Atmosphere of Neptune. As we have seen, on all the giants except Uranus, heat from the inside contributes about as much energy to the atmosphere as sunlight from the outside. In addition, about every 20 to 30 Earth years, Saturn hosts a megastorm (a great storm that can last many months). Phillips Davis The mass of the atmosphere and its capacity to store heat are so great that the alternating 42-year periods of sunlight and darkness have little effect. These are illustrated in Figure 9Â which indicates how strong the winds are at each latitude for the giant planets. Io. Bill Dunford, This site is maintained by the Planetary Science Communications team at. There is … What is Venus's atmosphere … Yet not all rocky bodies have the means to sustain them. Another uniquely striking feature is a hexagon-shaped jet stream encircling the North Pole. We show this smog as a fuzzy orange region in Figure 4; however, this thin layer does not block our view of the clouds beneath it. Higher in the atmosphere, the planet also has clouds which are a mixture of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid. They look like white ovals, and one can be seen clearly below and to the right of the Great Red Spot in Figure 11. The actual colors are a bit more muted, as shown in Figure 1 in Exploring the Outer Planets. The smaller, inner planets probably got their atmospheres from the outgassing that occurred as … More on these exoplanets›, 10. On Earth, the lifetime of a large oceanic hurricane or typhoon is typically a few weeks, or even less when it moves over the continents and encounters friction with the land. Calculations indicate that the basic atmospheric structure of Uranus should resemble that of Jupiter and Saturn, although its upper clouds (at the 1-bar pressure level) are composed of methane rather than ammonia. Through breaks in the ammonia clouds, we can see tantalizing glimpses of other cloud layers that can form in these deeper regions of the atmosphereâregions that were sampled directly for Jupiter by the Galileo probe that fell into the planet. 1. The wind speeds in circular storm systems can be formidable on both Earth and the giant planets. (b) In this infrared nighttime image from the Cassini mission, the path of Saturnâs hexagonal jet stream is visible as the planetâs north pole emerges from the darkness of winter. http://firstname.lastname@example.org, Discuss the atmospheric composition of the giant planets, Describe the cloud formation and atmospheric structure of the gas giants, Characterize the giant planetsâ wind and weather patterns, Understand the scale and longevity of storms on the giant planets. The upper clouds are composed of methane, which forms a thin cloud layer near the top of the troposphere at a temperature of 70 K and a pressure of 1.5 bars. These atmospheres also present us with some of the most dramatic examples of weather patterns in the solar system. This is much faster than wind speeds on Earth. In addition to oxygen, some planets have other properties conducive to life, such as water and predictable temperatures. The atmospheresof the jovian planets have many regions of high pressure (where there is more air) and low pressure (where there is less). But in spite of how common this type of atmosphere … The overall structure is similar to that of Jupiter. The visible atmosphere of Saturn is composed of approximately 75% hydrogen and 25% helium, with trace amounts of methane, ethane, propane, and other hydrocarbons. The terrestrial planets are rich in heavier gases and gaseous compounds, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, ozone, and argon. Despite its great distance and low energy input from the Sun, wind speeds at Neptune surpass 1,200 miles per hour (2,000 kilometers per hour), making them three times stronger than Jupiter’s and nine times stronger than Earth’s. If a storm has a diameter of 400 km and rotates once in 24 h, what is the wind speed? Our moon is another example of extremely thin atmosphere. And the only reason that Earth has oxygen is because Earth has plants that do photosynthesis. The atmosphere of Venus is the layer of gases surrounding Venus.It is composed primarily of carbon dioxide and is much denser and hotter than that of Earth.The temperature at the surface is 740 K (467 °C, 872 °F), and the pressure is 93 bar (1,350 psi), roughly the pressure found 900 m (3,000 ft) underwater on Earth. Mercury. The atmosphere has many layers with different temperatures. Closer to the poles, winds shift forward and flow with the planet’s rotation. These high-altitude clouds form bright white patterns against the blue planet beneath. It's so hot on Venus, metals like lead would be puddles of melted liquid. The compositions of the two atmospheres are generally similar, except that on Saturn there is less helium as the result of the precipitation of helium that contributes to Saturnâs internal energy source. It … (Once, when Van Allen was giving a lecture at the University of Arizona, the graduate students in planetary science asked him if he would leave his belt at the school. It was not until the Voyager spacecraft measured the far-infrared spectra of Jupiter and Saturn that a reliable abundance for the elusive helium could be found. To reach extremely high altitudes, Van Allen designed a technique in which a balloon lifts and then launches a small rocket (the rocket is nicknamed “the rockoon”). It is now proudly displayed as the universityâs “Van Allen belt.”). A planet or moon’s atmosphere must contain specific chemicals to support life as we know it. The ammonia clouds mark the upper edge of the planetsâ tropospheres; above that is the stratosphere, the coldest part of the atmosphere. The atmosphere is almost entirely carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulphuric acid. On Earth, we live in the troposphere, the closest atmospheric layer to Earth’s surface. The Earth's atmosphere contains approximately 22 percent oxygen, which exceeds the oxygen content in other planetary atmospheres. However, Venus has about 154,000 times more carbon dioxide in its atmosphere than Earth (and about 19,000 times more than Mars does), producing a runaway greenhouse effect and a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead. The scattering of sunlight by gas molecules lends Neptune a pale blue color similar to that of Earthâs atmosphere (Figure 7). The primary clouds that we see around these planets, whether from a spacecraft or through a telescope, are composed of frozen ammonia crystals. Different gases freeze at different temperatures. As I trust you know, all of the planets in the solar system have atmospheres – even Mercury, which is the smallest and one of the hottest planets. On Earth, we live in the troposphere, the closest atmospheric layer to Earth’s surface. The thick atmosphere traps the Sun's heat, resulting in surface temperatures higher than 880 degrees Fahrenheit (470 degrees Celsius). Figure 7: Neptune. venus. In 1998, the Galileo spacecraft watched as two of these ovals collided and merged into one. More on Jupiter›. There is only one planet where gaseous oxygen is found: Earth! However, it has continued to shrink, raising speculation that we may see its end within a few decades. This exoplanet is the first of its kind known to host water vapor in its atmosphere. Jupiterâs Great Red Spot rotates in 6 d and has a circumference equivalent to a circle with radius 10,000 km. On Jupiter, this cloud level is at a pressure of about 0.1 bar (one tenth the atmospheric pressure at the surface of Earth), but on Saturn it occurs lower in the atmosphere, at about 1 bar. (credit: modification of work by NASA/JPL). Venus' atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets. Then better spectra revealed the presence of molecules of methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3) in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. Consistent with the small tilt of Jupiterâs axis, the pattern does not change with the seasons. On January 31, 1958, Van Allenâs Explorer 1 became the first US satellite in space. With the exception of Mercury, which has a very thin atmosphere, the high-percentage objects are the largest bodies in the solar system. 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