12 Absolutely Insane Facts About Weather On Different Planets
It really is raining diamonds on Jupiter, as actor Jaden Smith was so keen to point out, but in reality, that small tidbit is but a single gem in a treasure trove of weird space weather facts. Envision a place where temperatures are so hot that they melt fool’s gold on towering mountain tops, a destination where storms rage on for centuries, and gemstone-covered glaciers glide across the surface. Can you take the heat of a 900-degree-Fahrenheit planet? Do you know about gas storms that happen every time a star dies? Can you imagine a place that storms so many magnetized crystals that you can see its surface glow for actual light years?
These occurrences are far from fiction. They’re a description of some of the wackiest weather in outer space. These climates are hostile, to say the least, but there’s a chance that, somewhere out there, some microorganism sees this weather as just a regular aspect of their environment.
We study space weather so thoroughly because it is one of the keys to finding out if we are, in fact, alone in the universe. Here’s a look at the zaniest intergalactic climates we’ve come across so far and what they say about those endless possibilities.
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Exoplanet HD 189773B Is Raining Horizontal Glass ShardsPhoto: PopTika / Shutterstock
The next time you gape through the hole of a telescope, keep your eyes peeled for the cerulean celestial body that gets its indescribably beautiful blue hue from its rain. As it turns out, this exoplanet is raining horizontal glass shards at a rate of 4,349 miles per hour.
As this glass pours from the sky at unfathomable speeds, the light reflection makes the planet look like it is covered in water. What a terrifyingly deceptive space storm.
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It Rains Gemstones On Several Planets, Making Them Treasure Troves In SpacePhoto: Vadim Sadovski / Shutterstock
So it turns out that it really does rain diamonds on Jupiter; however, diamond storms aren't restricted to that planet alone. Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus also experiences the unique storms.
How do diamond rainstorms happen? Lightning on the planets converts methane gas into carbon and, when that carbon hardens, it eventually takes on the form of a diamond. While Jupiter and Saturn have very hot core temperatures that can eventually melt the gems, diamonds tend to remain solid on planets with colder cores, like Neptune and Uranus.
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It’s Been Storming In The Same Sand-Colored Section Of Jupiter For 400 YearsPhoto: Vladi333 / Shutterstock
Scientists call this phenomenon the Great Red Spot. It’s the biggest storm in the recorded history of the solar system. So just how big is it? Well that depends on whether you're measuring its size, temperature, wind strength, or duration. All of those components are extremely colossal, but, when combined, its sheer magnitude is the epitome of zany space weather.
The Great Red Spot has been raging for 300 years and counting. Anticyclonic in nature and complete with tornadoes and acoustic waves, it was once more than two times the size of Earth - but it's becoming smaller and smaller over time. It swirls counterclockwise at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour.
To be fair, this is just one red hot scorcher of a storm, but researching it serves several scientific purposes. Upon more recent observation, it has become apparent that sound waves from this great space anticyclone are heating its upper atmosphere to the tune of over 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. This newly discovered piece of the puzzle could explain why some planets appear hotter than any temperature sunlight alone could achieve. Some scientists speculate that the heat from this storm is warming the entire planet of Jupiter.
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Snow On Venus Is Made Of MetalPhoto: Peter Simoncik / Shutterstock
For the sake of perspective, here’s a look at the landscape of Venus. It’s about 900 degrees Fahrenheit and dry as a cactus in July. Yet it snows. So how does that happen?
It’s suspected that the molten-hot temperature of Venus’ lowlands vaporizes pyrite materials, turning them into a sort of space-metal mist that filters through the atmosphere (try to visualize the water cycle charts from grade school for a clear understanding of how this occurs). The mist then falls over the towering mountains of Venus, and the mountain tops, in turn, are coated with the shiny metal substance. What a lovely vision for space enthusiasts everywhere, metal-coated mountains peaking up through the clouds on Venus.
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Neptune’s Earth-Sized Hurricane Stumped The Scientific CommunityPhoto: Vadim Sadovski / Shutterstock
Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun, and it's home to some massive storms. These weather patterns were first observed in 1989 when the Voyager 2 spacecraft spotted "the Great Dark Spot." At the time, scientists thought being so far from the sun would make for dull days and little, if any, weather activity, so they were puzzled about how the storm had formed.
In more recent years, scientists have discovered that Neptune's storms - which are roughly the size of Earth - take years to form, and their arrival is usually signalled by a buildup of white methane clouds. These storms usually last between 2-6 years.
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Ice Volcanoes Spew Snow On Saturn's MoonsPhoto: Jurik Peter / Shutterstock
Enceladus, Saturn’s ice moon, is a small, reflective celestial body with some incredibly unique features. Its surface is dotted with cryovolcanoes, which are volcanoes made of ice. They spew water, ice, and dust, creating a layer of ice that coats the planet, which is what makes Enceladus's surface reflective. The strangest thing about Enceladus, though, is that the dust spewed by its cryovolcanoes leaves the moon's atmosphere and feeds Saturn's rings.