Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits a banded pattern similar to Jupiter’s, but Saturn’s bands are much fainter and are much wider near the equator. The nomenclature used to describe these bands is the same as on Jupiter. Saturn’s finer cloud patterns were not observed until the flybys of the Voyager spacecraft during the 1980s. Since then, Earth-based telescopy has improved to the point where regular observations can be made. The composition of the clouds varies with depth and increasing pressure.
The winds on Saturn are the second fastest among the Solar System’s planets, after Neptune’s. Voyager data indicate peak easterly winds of 500 m/s (1,800 km/h).
Thermography has shown that Saturn’s south pole has a warm polar vortex, the only known example of such a phenomenon in the Solar System. Whereas temperatures on Saturn are normally −185 °C, temperatures on the vortex often reach as high as −122 °C, suspected to be the warmest spot on Saturn.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute and Kevin M. Gill
Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide. The clouds are located in the tropopause and are arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as tropical regions. These are sub-divided into lighter-hued zones and darker belts. The interactions of these conflicting circulation patterns cause storms and turbulence. Wind speeds of 100 m/s (360 km/h) are common in zonal jets. The zones have been observed to vary in width, color and intensity from year to year, but they have remained sufficiently stable for scientists to give them identifying designations.
The cloud layer is only about 50 km (31 mi) deep, and consists of at least two decks of clouds: a thick lower deck and a thin clearer region. There may also be a thin layer of water clouds underlying the ammonia layer. Supporting the idea of water clouds are the flashes of lightning detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter. These electrical discharges can be up to a thousand times as powerful as lightning on Earth. The water clouds are assumed to generate thunderstorms in the same way as terrestrial thunderstorms, driven by the heat rising from the interior.
This image captures swirling cloud belts and tumultuous vortices within Jupiter’s northern hemisphere.
The region seen here is somewhat chaotic and turbulent, given the various swirling cloud formations. In general, the darker cloud material is deeper in Jupiter’s atmosphere, while bright cloud material is high. The bright clouds are most likely ammonia or ammonia and water, mixed with a sprinkling of unknown chemical ingredients.
Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt /Seán Doran
Polar stratospheric clouds or PSCs, also known as nacreous clouds, are clouds in the winter polar stratosphere at altitudes of 15,000–25,000 meters (49,000–82,000 ft). They are best observed during civil twilight when the sun is between 1 and 6 degrees below the horizon as well as in winter and in more northerly latitudes. They are implicated in the formation of ozone holes. The effects on ozone depletion arise because they support chemical reactions that produce active chlorine which catalyzes ozone destruction, and also because they remove gaseous nitric acid, perturbing nitrogen and chlorine cycles in a way which increases ozone destruction.
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Asperitas and Mammatus
Well-defined, wave-like structures in the underside of the cloud; more chaotic and with less horizontal organization than the variety undulatus. Asperitas is characterized by localized waves in the cloud base, either smooth or dappled with smaller features, sometimes descending into sharp points, as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of the cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects.
Occurs mostly with Stratocumulus and Altocumulus
Mammatus is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud, typically cumulonimbus rainclouds, although they may be attached to other classes of parent clouds.
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Cyclones of the Polar region on Jupiter – JUNO (JIRAM)
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM/Gerald Eichstädt /Alexis Tranchandon/Solaris
See intricate cloud patterns in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter in this new view taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
The color-enhanced image was taken on April 1 at 2:32 a.m. PST (5:32 a.m. EST), as Juno performed its twelfth close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 7,659 miles (12,326 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a northern latitude of 50.2 degrees.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill
Citizen scientist Rick Lundh created this abstract Jovian artwork using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Rick Lundh
Juno in Jupiter (the images that appear the juno probe is just an illustration) +Jupiter
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill
Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus
Image Credit: Isaac Gutiérrez Pascual