How Powerful are Other Planets' Storms?
Earth is a vibrant and stormy planet. The enormous hurricanes and rumbling thunderstorms are some of the most powerful storms in the solar system. However, other planets also experience lightning, rain, and storm clouds. According to NASA, the size of the storms often depends on the size of the planet. For example, Saturn has the largest storms. Other planets in the world also experience powerful storms, as explained below.
Magnetic Tornadoes and Micrometeoroid Showers in Mercury
Mercury is a hot planet due to its proximity to the sun. Daytime temperatures are approximately 450 degrees Celsius. It is also hard for this planet to hold on to the atmosphere because of its weak gravity. This characteristic prevents it from having dramatic storms.
However, it has various strange weather patterns, such as micrometeoroids. These tiny dust particles often appear in the morning. Mercury also experiences magnetic “tornadoes” that connect its magnetic field to the atmosphere.
Acidic Rain in Venus
Scientists usually describe Venus as Earth’s twin because the two have an almost similar size and structure. However, Venus is very hot, with temperatures of 480 degrees Celsius. It is also characterized by sulfuric acid clouds, a carbon dioxide sky, and a crushing atmosphere.
Reports provided by NASA indicate that Venus experiences a lot of lightning, maybe even more than the Earth. It is also famous for the steaming acid rain.
Approximately 30 miles above the ground, 200 MPH winds push the sulfuric acid clouds across the sky. Sulfuric acid droplets condense out of these clouds and fall as acid rain. At lower atmospheric heights, the winds are slower, but the air is hotter. The extreme heat causes the raindrops to sizzle and vaporize before they reach the planet’s surface.
Intense Dust Storms in Mars
Mars's thin atmosphere mainly comprises of carbon dioxide. This solar system component is known for its extreme dust storms. For instance, the 2018 storm blanketed about a quarter of the planet.
Warm air rising from Mar’s surface carries this dust to the atmosphere. As it moves upwards, it absorbs sunlight and radiates more warmth to the surrounding air. As the warm and cooler air interacts, it creates more wind that increases the dust. This wind often blows at a speed of 60 miles per hour.
The fine dust particles blow and brush against each other and produce static electricity. Consequently, lightning crackles throughout the developing storm. The strong wind often traps atmospheric heat. After a global dust storm, Mar’s average temperature can increase by about 30°C.
The dust suspended in the atmosphere makes this planet appear reddish. Scientists indicate that this dust might distract future missions by affecting the mechanical and electronic systems. The health of the astronauts might also be at risk.
The Shrinking Icon in Jupiter
Jupiter’s Red Spot is one of the best-known storms in the entire solar system. It has exploded for roughly 300 years. However, it has been shrinking for more than one and a half centuries. Scientists are gaining new insights about this storm through NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
According to this spacecraft, this storm has roots that penetrate approximately 267 miles per hour or 430 kilometers into Jupiter’s atmosphere. It is likely to survive for many years because the planet does not have a solid surface to stop them.
Storm Chasers Paradise in Saturn
Saturn is one of the planets in the solar system with extraordinary atmospheric features. For instance, its cloud pattern is hexagon-shaped. The strong winds in the North Pole blow at 320 miles per hour.
During NASA’s Cassini mission, scientists observed that storms occur frequently in the southern hemisphere. These storms can rage for many years. In 2010, astronauts witnessed a storm that roiled around the planet, ran into its methane-poor tail, and exploded. This giant storm lasted for more than 200 days. At 60 miles per hour, this hurricane also migrated to Saturn.
Dust Storms and Methane Rain in Titan
Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has various liquid bodies, such as rivers, seas, and lakes on its surface. The methane liquids fall from clouds, fill these water bodies, and evaporate into the sky. The Cassini spacecraft revealed that Titan also experiences giant dust storms in its equatorial regions.
Polar Storm in Uranus
For many years, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of the clouds on this planet. They wanted to discover what they were made of. In 2018, NASA, through the Hubble Space Telescope, took a photo showing a bright stormy cloud. This cloud spread across the planet’s North Pole. In the same year, researchers discovered that the clouds on this solar system planet consist of hydrogen sulfide.
Vanishing Storms and Methane Clouds in Neptune
Neptune has the strongest winds in the solar system. These strong winds often whip the frozen methane clouds across this planet at a speed of 1,200 miles per hour. This wind speed is nine times faster than the one on Earth.
NASA also confirmed the enormous storm systems in Neptune. In 1989, it discovered a giant storm and named it “The Great Dark Spot”. The scientists also spotted a second storm, “Dark Spot 2”, in the same year.
Five years later, images taken through NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope indicated that the storms had vanished. Scientists suggest that storms assemble in Neptune every five years: each storm lasts for about six years. Last year, astronomers saw a cyclone in this planet’s South Pole. It was thousands of miles wide and had a well-developed eye, like Earth’s hurricane.