The Weather on Jupiter
Why the colors?
- We see light and dark bands of clouds on the top layers of Jupiter.
- The patterns move.
- There is also the great red spot, with patterns rotating
counterclockwise around it.
We can understand the basic zone/band structure as a result of
- Spectroscopic observations (analysis of light) + calculations
tell us what the clouds are made of:
- Ammonia (NH3) crystals in top layer.
- Ammonium hydrosulfide (NH4SH) crystals in middle layer.
- Water ice in lowest layer.
- The colors seem to be associated with temperature.
- White "zones" are higher and cooler.
- Dark "bands" are lower and warmer.
- But just what chemicals cause the colors is something of a mystery.
- Recall that Jupiter is hot inside.
- Hot gases rise.
- They cool.
- Cool gases fall.
- This happens on Earth too.
How can the motion be explained?
ASTR 121 Home
Davison E. Soper, Institute of Theoretical Science,
University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403 USA