What’s the weather outlook on other planets? Expect methane rainfall, global haboobs and a strong 10,000 miles-broad hurricane. Our solar system is host to some wild and amazing weather, with its storms being more horrifying in scale than anything ever seen on Earth. From hurricanes on Jupiter that date back to centuries to dangerous winds experienced on Neptune, let’s just say if you were to leave planet earth today, you would be shocked to the point of dropping back to Earth.
Visit Mars and you will be surprised at the massive dust storms that blanket the whole planet. On the other end, Venus boasts a highly thick and fast-moving atmosphere capable of forming permanent vortices around its poles.
When it comes to Jupiter and Saturn, expect huge storms larger than the diameter of several planet earths combined that have continued to rant and rave through the planets for decades or centuries. On Neptune—the ice giant, expect to find some of the fastest winds within the solar system, and in Neptune. Don’t be surprised to see rain of diamonds on Uranus.
Following the many missions into space in recent times, we now know more about the wonderful weather systems that exist beyond planet earth. Scientists are doing long-term research of weather systems including storms that erupt from the Sun and which have direct effects on planet Earth. As we dive deeper into the unknown, who knows what we’ll discover next about the solar system?
Apparently, this exemplary storm believed to have been raging through Jupiter for centuries, might not be around forever. The mammoth spinning storm can be compared to the Earth’s hurricane, though it’s considered bigger, measuring approximately 10,000 miles (16,000km wide), which is about 1.3 times the width of planet Earth. Scientists believe its roots run up to 100 times deeper into Jupiter than oceans on Earth. However, recent evidence indicates that the storm could be shrinking, even though it’s capable of devouring other storms to achieve a boost.
Notably, that’s not the only extreme weather found on Jupiter. Its north and south poles feature weird cyclone arrays set in a circle, with the intense radiation emanating from the planet bathing some of its moons including lo and Europa.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft which arrived on the orbit surrounding Jupiter in 2016 has been gathering great data regarding the gas giant using a range of instruments.
These include a microwave radiometer that measures the depth of atmosphere on Jupiter, infrared and ultraviolet cameras that take images of the planet’s atmosphere and its aurorae, as well as JunoCam which also snaps the more visible light images.
Remarkably, we have not only witnessed lightning on Saturn but also heard its sound.
NASA’s spacecraft dubbed Cassini which orbited planet Saturn between 2004 and 2017, spotted lightning on Saturn during daytime and it’s believed the lightning must have been so intense—with some bolts considered to be 10,000 times stronger than those experienced on Earth, according to reports from NASA.
Through observation of radio emissions from the planet, Cassini could also ‘hear’ the storms being discharged in the atmosphere.
Saturn rarely develops huge storms that expand above 190,000 miles (300,000 kilometres), encompassing nearly the entire planet, while the north pole of the gas giant houses some weird, permanent hexagon of clouds that run deeper into the planet.
Solar storms: Angry outbursts that knock out power grids
The sun is capable of wreaking havoc on planet Earth. Its solar storms feature bursts of radiation and highly charged particles which can severely damage satellites that closely monitor the sun’s activities and prepare for the worst, but once in a while when a massive storm comes our way, satellites and power grids have to be turned off in order to thrust it out.
Regardless of our best efforts, more often than not a violent solar outburst catches us off guard. In 1859, a highly dangerous solar flare named after a renowned astronomer Richard Carrington caused far-reaching interruptions to telegraph communications worldwide. The 1859 Carrington Event also triggered extraordinary aurora displays that became visible to as far as the south of the Caribbean.
A solar flare event that occurred in 1989 destroyed the electric power transmission at the Hydro Québec generating station, resulting in a blackout that plunged six million people in darkness for nine hours.
Solar activity is even thought to be the force behind the sinking of the great Titanic.
According to the latest research, a solar storm that caused the unbelievable northern light show at the time the Titanic was sinking is believed to have interfered with the ship’s communication and navigation systems and seriously hampered rescue operations.
Venus’ vortex: A storm that moves faster than its planet
The Venus South Pole features a huge vortex equivalent to the size of Europe spinning in the atmosphere. The vortex seems to have been in existence for quite a long time and is due to some odd properties on the planet. The atmosphere within Venus moves faster than the planet itself, peaking at speeds of 250 miles (400 kilometres per hour), which is 60 times faster than how the planet rotates, according to the findings of the European Space Agency.
Venus is also considered as the hottest planet within the solar system, despite not being the closest to the sun. It’s highly dense atmosphere covers the planet, trapping heat in a sought of runaway greenhouse effect. Consequently, Venusian temperatures can soar to 870 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius).
The rainfall received on Venus cannot even offer the much needed relief from the monstrous climate. Corrosive sulfuric acid descends from the clouds and evaporates before even hitting the ground due to the extreme temperatures on the surface.
Neptune’s mega wind: Faster than the speed of sound
Neptune which is actually the farthest from the Sun boasts the fastest winds within the solar system. The highest altitudes on this planet where methane awards Neptune its blue color, winds reach speeds of above 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometres) per hour, approximately 1.6 times the speed of sound. These wild winds also deliver some large storms including the famous “Great Dark Spot” witnessed by the Voyager 2 survey in 1989.
Scientists are still wondering about the cause of this momentary storm which vanished by the time NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope turned its focus to Neptune about five years after Voyager 2.
Since then, Hubble has been closely watching Neptune’s tumultuous storms which rotate clockwise owing to the planet’s rotation (unlike the Earth’s hurricanes which are usually low-pressure systems and rotate anticlockwise).
With time, Hubble has seen the arrival and cease of countless Neptunian storms, one of which shocked scientists recently.
This specific vortex had been seen raging southwards towards Neptune’s equator, tracking through the path of several storms that came before it. Unlike those before it, this vortex took a sharp U-turn and started drifting back northwards to the surprise of researchers.
Martian dust storms: Tornados visible from space
In 2018, a powerful dust storm blanketed the surface of Mars, blocking visibility of much of its surface. These storms commonly referred to as “haboobs” when experienced on Earth, are quite commonplace on Mars, happening every few years, though this one was uniquely large.
These are as a result of the sun’s heating of the planet’s atmosphere, which lifts dust off the ground. For now, scientists have no clue how they grow huge, according to NASA. They cause problems for solar-powered rovers present on the surface, tapping heat from the sunlight.
Mars also records dust devils, usually tiny tornadoes that develop and move through the surface. This occurrence isn’t exclusive to the Red Planet. As a matter of fact, they are also seen on planet Earth.
Dust devils develop when the ground is heated up, causing air near the surface to warm up and rise. As the air rises, it comes into contact with the cool and tiny segments of air within the atmosphere, in turn causing the air column to rotate.
These dust devils are visible due to the dirt kicked up off the ground. These are so visible that they can be seen from space!
Back in 2012, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a colossal Martian dust devil measuring 2,600 feet (800 meters) long and 98 feet (30 meters) wide.
Titan’s methane rain: You’d feel every drop
Saturn’s biggest moon Titan is considered one of the most mysterious bodies within the solar system. This Earth-like mass has liquid on its surface, experiences a totally bizarre climate and has continued to intrigue scientists.
Sometimes methane falls on Titan as rain, before evaporating from the surface to form thick clouds.
Methane rain over the freezing-cold moon descends so slowly, owing to the low gravity and the thick smog, allowing one to feel each drop, as Rajani Dhingra a physicist at the University of Idaho explained to New Scientist in 2019.
Titan’s hydrological cycle ( with “hydro” in this case referring to methane not water as on Earth), carves the landscape before feeding liquid ethane and methane into gigantic lakes like Kraken Mare which stands at over 1,000 feet (300 meters) deep.
The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs, objectives or circumstances into consideration, and is not financial advice, legal advice or otherwise a recommendation to purchase any financial product or insurance policy. You should seek your own independent financial advice from a qualified financial and insurance adviser before making any financial decisions, and seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor before making any decisions of a legal nature.