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Their intermittent appearance indicates a pattern associated with weather activity, and the lightning rate is at least half of that on Earth.

Planetary Atmospheres Symposium

These consists of the Troposphere, the Stratosphere, the Mesosphere, the Thermosphere, and the Exosphere. As a rule, air pressure and density decrease the higher one goes into the atmosphere and the farther one is from the surface. Closest to the Earth is the Troposphere, which extends from the 0 to between 12 km and 17 km 0 to 7 and The Stratosphere extends from the Troposphere to an altitude of 50 km 31 mi.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour sillouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere and the blue layer the mesosphere. This layer is completely cloudless and free of water vapor. It is also at this altitude that the phenomena known as Aurora Borealis and Aurara Australis are known to take place. The exosphere merges with the emptiness of outer space, and is mainly composed of extremely low densities of hydrogen, helium and several heavier molecules including nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The Atmosphere

The exosphere is located too far above Earth for any meteorological phenomena to be possible. However, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis sometimes occur in the lower part of the exosphere, where they overlap into the thermosphere. For instance, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was Meanwhile, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was measured at the Soviet Vostok Station on the Antarctic Plateau, reaching an historic low of The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates that measure 1.

Because of its thin atmosphere, and its greater distance from the Sun, the surface temperature of Mars is much colder than what we experience here on Earth. The planet also experiences dust storms, which can turn into what resembles small tornadoes. Larger dust storms occur when the dust is blown into the atmosphere and heats up from the Sun. The warmer dust filled air rises and the winds get stronger, creating storms that can measure up to thousands of kilometers in width and last for months at a time.

When they get this large, they can actually block most of the surface from view. Trace amounts of methane have also been detected in the Martian atmosphere, with an estimated concentration of about 30 parts per billion ppb. Ammonia was also tentatively detected on Mars by the Mars Express satellite, but with a relatively short lifetime. It is not clear what produced it, but volcanic activity has been suggested as a possible source.

Much like Earth, Jupiter experiences auroras near its northern and southern poles. But on Jupiter, the auroral activity is much more intense and rarely ever stops. Jupiter also experiences violent weather patterns. Storms form within hours and can become thousands of km in diameter overnight.

One storm, the Great Red Spot , has been raging since at least the late s. The storm has been shrinking and expanding throughout its history; but in , it was suggested that the Giant Red Spot might eventually disappear. Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide.

Theory of Planetary Atmospheres, Volume 36 - 2nd Edition

Observations of these electrical discharges indicate that they can be up to a thousand times as powerful as those observed here on the Earth. The outer atmosphere of Saturn contains The gas giant is also known to contain heavier elements, though the proportions of these relative to hydrogen and helium is not known. It is assumed that they would match the primordial abundance from the formation of the Solar System.

The upper clouds are composed of ammonia crystals , while the lower level clouds appear to consist of either ammonium hydrosulfide NH 4 SH or water. Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun causes methane photolysis in the upper atmosphere, leading to a series of hydrocarbon chemical reactions with the resulting products being carried downward by eddies and diffusion. Water ice clouds begin at a level where the pressure is about 2.

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Great White Oval. These spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide, and have been observed in , , , , and Since , a large band of white clouds called the Northern Electrostatic Disturbance have been observed enveloping Saturn, which was spotted by the Cassini space probe. If the periodic nature of these storms is maintained, another one will occur in about At the north pole, this takes the form of a hexagonal wave pattern, whereas the south shows evidence of a massive jet stream.

The persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north pole was first noted in the Voyager images.

Mercury’s Atmosphere:

The south pole vortex, meanwhile, was first observed using the Hubble Space Telescope. These images indicated the presence of a jet stream, but not a hexagonal standing wave.


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In , the Cassini space probe observed a hurricane-like storm that had a clearly defined eye. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Help us improve our products. Sign up to take part. A Nature Research Journal. IN the Astrophysical Journal for November, , is printed a paper of mine in the first part of which a method is proposed for determining the mean temperatures of the atmospheres of the planets and those of their surfaces. Johnstone Stoney and based on the supposition that helium escapes from the earth's atmosphere.


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