Weather, in general, is an unpredictable subject, raining one minute and sunshine the next. We use all different types of tools to help us tract weather here on Earth, including weather balloons, barometers, and satellites to name a few. If you’re wondering what the weather is like on another planet, let’s say Uranus or Neptune, the Hubble Space Telescope has updates on those planet’s current conditions.
Checking in regularly, the telescope is able to see what is happening in Uranus and Neptune’s atmospheres. The Hubble Space Telescope is able to capture amazing images of clouds on these two planets.
With the information from the telescope, we know that Uranus is currently into its summer season – a season on this giant planet lasts 21 Earth years. There is a large, white cloud covering the planet’s north pole which is directed at the sun. Scientists have noticed that the white cloud has grown even bigger and the large polar cap has a smaller, bright cloud of methane ice.
Seasons last for 41 Earth years on Neptune and right now it’s winter in Neptune’s northern hemisphere. Currently, there is a massive dark storm stretching about 6,800 miles across its northern hemisphere.
Unsure of what creates the dark storms on Neptune, scientists know that the wild storms seem to pop up about two times in a decade and disappear within about two years. Researchers believe that the storms slowly rise through the planet’s atmosphere, lifting elements of deeper layers of the atmosphere to the top. Hubble has spotted another atmospheric feature near the dark storm. These sparkling white “companion clouds” have been spotted before around dark storms in the past.
So, the next time you think about the weather in your area, remember that there are weather conditions happening on Uranus and Neptune that are literally “OUT OF THIS WORLD”!
Photo Courtesy: New Hubble observations of Uranus and Neptune track the planets’ atmospheres.
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong and A. Hsu (University of California, Berkeley)