« Astronomers Discover Amount of Dark Matter Needed For Star-Forming Galaxies | Main | Tiny, Earth-Like Planet Discovered »

February 17, 2011

Weather isn't just on Earth

Now that we are learning about the specific differences between planets, such as their composition, orbits, and tilts, I think it is worth considering weather, and how it does not solely exist on Earth. I found an article that talked about Jupiter and a new "little red spot" forming and competing with the well-known "big red spot." This article explains that winds up to 385 mph (185 mph faster than any category 5 hurricane on Earth) has stirred up the materials on Jupiter, creating yet another spot. While other planets have distinct atmospheres than Earth and no known life to witness natural occurrences, we must not forget that weather, just like on Earth, exists on other planets.


Posted by ccastel at February 17, 2011 10:13 PM


Weather can and does exist on other planets, depending on multiple factors. If a planet is too close to the Sun, the gasses could heat up and escape the planet and leave it without an atmosphere. If the planet is too small it won' t have enough of a gravitational pull to hold in gasses.
Discovering planets with atmospheres is always exciting because it means another potential earth-like planet.

Posted by: stoneswt at February 18, 2011 05:26 PM

That is actually a very interesting point that I never considered. However, I wonder about the other factors that allow life to thrive on Earth. While atmosphere is definitely a necessity, there are a plethora of other components that contribute to a habitable world, such as planetary composition, gravity, location, tilt etc. But my question is, could a planet exist that has the same atmosphere as Earth but various differing characteristics and still serve as a habitable planet?

Posted by: ccastel at February 18, 2011 05:39 PM

If you read the article I just posted in the blog -- "Tiny, Earth-Like Planet Discovered" - it does offer some insight. The planet described is the first proof of a solid terrestrial planet in space. Most planets discovered before this were either Jovian planets or thought to be terrestrial, but there was no definitive proof.
With that discovery and the seemingly unending number of planets to explore, the odds are good of finding a habitable planet.

Posted by: stoneswt at February 18, 2011 06:29 PM

We will spend a lot of time on planet atmospheres. These are good discussions. Interestingly, the places we might find life in the Solar System might not need Earth-like atmospheres. Arguably, water is the key ingredient, and if we find planets that have liquid water (for example, deep under the surface) we might find evidence of life.

But the key point is that we know of only one planet with life, and that planet has its own characteristics. The fun part is trying to figure which of those characteristics are *required* for life.

Posted by: christoq at February 21, 2011 10:47 AM

Login to leave a comment. Create a new account.