What’s the weather like on other planets?

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Anyone wanting to holiday on Mars should be prepared to take shelter from passing sandstorms Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES


he baby of the Solar system and closest to the Sun, smallest-planet Mercury has no atmosphere, so its weather forecast is usually fairly dull. However, visitors would be advised to either wrap up very warm, or slap on lots of SPF 50, depending on which part of the planet they stop off at – temperatures vary from -183C to 427C between the scorching subsolar point and freezing poles.


The hottest of all the planets, and second from the Sun, there’s no escaping the cloud cover on Venus. With an atmosphere that’s choked with carbon dioxide and nitrogen and suffused with sulphuric acid, glimpses of sunshine are unlikely. Mugginess doesn’t come close to describing the experience of sweating it out on the rocks with 92x the atmospheric pressure of Earth bearing down on you, trying to cool off in 480C heat.


The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars may have seen some heavy precipitation in the past but visitors these days would have to content themselves with strapping on their ice skates to explore the chilly polar regions. Expect to see blue sunsets and sunrises. Passing sandstorms on the horizon; take shelter.


Gigantic Jupiter is a gas planet, made up of hydrogen and helium. At 318 times the size of Earth, Jupiter gives off more heat than it gets from the Sun. Storms are highly likely as high pressure forces helium to become liquid, causing heavy rain, and winds of up to 360kph may be expected. Watch out for ammonia clouds, likely to be a common feature.


The sixth planet from the Sun, Saturn is also made up of gas. The second-largest planet in the Solar system is not a hospitable place, with winds of up to 1,800kph, temperatures up to 14,727C at the core and a layer of ice 10 kilometres thick. Cloudy days expected, made up of ammonia, hydrogen and helium. Every 30 years or so, a super-storm called the Great White Spot brews up. Saturn is best avoided at this time.


Stormy weather is forecast for this gas-and-ice planet, which is the third-largest and seventh from the Sun. Blue clouds of methane gas are expected, and visitors are advised to wear thermals to ward off the -197C chill.


Brrr. The blue planet – furthest from the Sun – is also aptly the coldest, with temperatures plummeting to -224C. Another gas giant but with an icy core, expect similar weather to Uranus but at the more extreme end. Winds can reach 2,100kph.

Written by physicsgg

September 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

Posted in ASTRONOMY, meteorology

Tagged with ,

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