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Jupiter's cloud tops at night with a lightning bolt and Io and Europa; gas giant; jovian planet - Space Art Illustration
 

Jupiter's cloud tops at night

This vantage point is from the same altitude as Jupiter's highest clouds where the atmospheric pressure is just a few millibars, about the same as that on the surface of Mars. High in the starry sky can be seen two of Jupiter's largest satellites--volcanic Io and icy Europa.

The scanty ether here gives little clue to the gargantuan pressures and tornado-force winds below. A giant lightning bolt passes between cloud layers driven by a 300 mph gale. Thunderstorms may be an important source of energy for Jupiter's planet-wide winds. Beneath the clouds lies a turbulent realm of molecular hydrogen and helium. Go deeper yet and this atmosphere eventually gives way to a deep, planet-wide ocean of liquid hydrogen.

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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