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Exploratour - Life in the Solar System

This is a drawing of the Galileo probe exploring the environment of Jupiter.
Click on image for full size
Image from: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory

As we move out in the solar system, the planets get colder, and higher temperatures begin to be found deeper into the interior of the planet, where the pressure of overlying material becomes immense.

Jupiter's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +32 degrees (freezing temperature). These winds make it hard for lifeforms to have "peace and quiet".

The region where it is 32 degrees sounds manageable, but where the temperature is 32 degrees, the pressure is about the same as it would be if one were a couple miles below the sea on Earth, and is probably within Jupiter's liquid region. The air of Jupiter is definitely a region that is well below freezing temperatures!

In the atmosphere there are at least three known clouddecks of ammonia, ammonia hydrosulfide, and water, with perhaps sizable condensed droplets. Moreover there is energy from lightning, ultraviolet light, and charged particles.

Jupiter's interior possesses an environment of pressures as great as three million times the sea-level pressure on earth, and temperatures as high as 10,000 degrees.

Overall, this environment sounds very unfriendly to life as we know it on earth.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF