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.
Hot Flow Anomalies Cause Explosions In Venus's Atmosphere
According to NASA, hot flow anomalies "cause a temporary reversal of the solar wind that normally moves past a planet." Essentially, they create a giant space explosion. HFAs, as they're known, occur on many planets, including Earth. On Earth, these anomalies occur in the magnetosphere, far above the planet's surface. But Venus has no magnetic field and no magnetosphere, so the HFAs occur much closer to the planet's surface.
The atmosphere on Venus is so thick that spacecraft don't last more than a few hours on its surface before being crushed. Because of this, we don't know how these HFAs affect the planet, but NASA scientist Glyn Collinson shared some ideas with NASA.com:
"At Earth, HFAs have a big effect, but don't necessarily rule the roost," says Collinson. "But at Venus, since the HFA happens right up next to the planet, it is going to have a more dramatic effect on the system."
Large space explosions occur close to the surface of Venus - and we don't know what effect this has on the planet.52164Is this wacky and wild?
Snow On Venus Is Made Of Metal
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.36626Is this wacky and wild?
Ice Volcanoes Spew Snow On Saturn's Moons
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.36032Is this wacky and wild?
A 5,592-Mile-Wide Storm Sweeps Over Otherwise Inactive Uranus
In 1999, Uranus broke records and news with its 1,300-mile, minus-300-degree-Farenheit storm that revealed something very special about the planet: its clouds are brighter than any other planet’s clouds within the solar system. Today, it is making headlines with even more massive storms, reaching up to 5,592 miles wide.39041Is this wacky and wild?