Thunderstorm on Jupiter

Thunderstorm on Jupiter

. Instruments aboard the Galileo spacecraft determined the altitudes of this tall, thick thunderstorm (mottled white region), which towers 25 kilometers above the surrounding clouds and extends 50 kilometers below them (red base). On Jupiter, water is the only substance that can form a cloud at this depth, where the pressure is four or five times the sea-level pressure on Earth. Other towering thunderstorms on Jupiter have been shown to produce powerful lightening bolts, suggesting that these clouds contain falling raindrops and rising air columns. Massive storm cells like these probably transport heat from Jupiterís interior into its long-lived cloudy weather patterns of bands and ovals. Similar water-rich thunderstorms with lightning exist on Earth, but their Jovian counterparts are about five times broader and taller. (Courtesy of NASA, JPL, Cornell University, and the California Institute of Technology.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University