Jupiter's Weather Forecast

One-hundred forty-seven (147) days before the Galileo Orbiter reaches Jupiter it will release an Atmospheric Probe. Soon after release, the orbiter will burn its big engine for 5 minutes and end up on a path to Jupiter that is slightly different from the path the Probe is taking. The Orbiter and Probe will reach Jupiter at the same time (December 7, 1995) but will be out of communication until a 75 minute period called "Probe Relay". During "Relay", the Probe will deploy a parachute and then descend about 150 km into the planet's atmosphere. The Probe will send atmospheric data up to the Probe Relay Antenna and the data will be recorded onboard the Orbiter. The data will be played back to Earth soon after the Jupiter encounter.

During the Probe's "pre-entry" phase, it will study the energetic particle population in Jupiter's innermost magnetosphere (Energetic Particle Instrument). During descent, instruments on board the Probe will measure temperature and pressure (Atmosphere Structure Instrument), locate major cloud decks (Nephelometer and Net Flux Radiometer) and analyze the chemistry of atmospheric gases (Helium Abundance Detector and Neutral Mass Spectrometer). The Probe will attempt to detect lightning by looking for flashes of light and by listening for the radio "static" they generate (Lightning and Radio Emission Detector).

Photographs from space show how different weather is on Earth and Jupiter. On Earth, the cloud patterns are mostly spiral-shaped storms. Jupiter's weather pattern is dominated by bands of clouds that are aligned with its spin direction.

Several factors that contribute to the differences in weather on each planet are shown in the chart below. Compare the two planets by filling in the rest of the blanks (use general descriptions, not quantitative values).

Does this chart help you understand WHY the weather on Earth and Jupiter look so different?

The weather report returned from the Probe may be like this:

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