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Do other planets have weather? It turns out that, yes, they do! But, the weather isn't all the same on other planets because of things like atmosphere. In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina takes us on a tour of the weather on the rocky planets in our solar system.

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///Standards Used in This Video///
5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.]

Image Credits
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

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Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Jen Szymanski
Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik



Sabrina: If you're packing for a trip to Hawaii, chances are you're going to bring some stuff like a bathing suit, and shorts, a few t-shirts, and flip flops. And you're good buddy, me, of course. But if you're going to Antarctica, your suitcase probably looks a lot different. You'll need more layers: a big heavy coat, a scarf, gloves, all of the warm fuzzy things. But, what if you're traveling to Mercury? What do you need to pack for that? OK, a spacesuit, yeah, but let's just pretend we can just walk around on Mercury like we do here on Earth: without a spacesuit. What kind of weather would we be dressing for?

We know there's weather on Earth. And the fact is, there's weather on other planets, too. Some of it's familiar, like wind, but some of it is a little more, well, extreme. So what is the weather like on other planets? 

 Big Question

Well, before we leave Earth to find out, can I get a reminder of what exactly weather is again? Oh, right! Weather is the condition of the atmosphere on different parts of a planet. Even though there's only one atmosphere on Earth, the weather isn't the same all over the world. There are many different factors that can change the atmosphere in a certain area. And together, they determine what the weather is like from one minute, and from one place, to the next.

These factors include temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and lots of other things. But, when you're talking about the overall weather patterns for a certain region of the world, you're talking about that area's climate.

Weather is the minute by minute changes in the atmosphere. Climate is what the weather is like over a long period of time in a specific area. OK, got it. You know what else has got it? It being weather and climate, the other planets in our Solar System. And, let me tell you, there are some freaky weather situations happening up there. So, why don't we take a trip to each planet to see what they've got going on weather-wise.

Let's start with those that are closest to the Sun: Mercury, Venus, and Mars, otherwise known as the rocky planets. Which, by the way is a pretty sweet band name! These three planets all have one thing in common with Earth: They're all solid worlds with hard, rocky surfaces that, if you ever went there, you could stand on! Let's take a virtual trip to each one to see how hot, cold, windy, or whatever, these three planets are. 

 Investigation: Mercury

First, hello Mercury! Or should I say, brr! If you were thinking Mercury would be a super hot place because it's the closest planet to the Sun, well, you're half right. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, but it's not actually the hottest. Temperatures on Mercury can go from a super chilly one hundred-seventy degrees below zero at night to a very warm four-hundred-twenty-five degrees Celsius during the day. Why the extreme changes? 

During it's rotation, when one side of Mercury is facing the Sun, that side gets super hot! But, Mercury doesn't have a lot of gases around it like the Earth does. Without these gases to hold in heat, the planet can get really, really, really cold, too. Especially on the side that's facing away from the Sun.

So the planet's proximity to the Sun, combined with its thin atmosphere, gives Mercury the biggest changes in temperatures of any of the planets.

 Investigation: Venus

Things get even more extreme on Venus, the next closest planet to the Sun. We've sent probes to Venus to take pictures of what it looks like, and they show us that the planet is rocky and covered with think clouds, but it doesn't have any life on it. Because Venus is extremely hot! In fact, even though it's not the closest to the Sun, Venus is the hottest planet in our Solar System, with temperatures reaching as high as four-hundred-sixty degrees Celsius.

Why is Venus so hot? Because of something called the Greenhouse Effect. The Greenhouse Effect is what happens when light from the Sun hits the surface of a planet and warms it up. That heat tries to bounce back into space, but a gas called carbon dioxide traps a lot of it around the planet, keeping it warm.

It's sort of like what happens inside your car when you keep your windows up on a hot day. Oh, and next time you complain about it raining, you should know that it rains sulfuric acid on Venus. Yeah. Instead of water, Venus's clouds are made up of corrosive sulfuric acid. That burning acid doesn't reach the surface, though, because Venus's toasty temperatures causes the acid to evaporate before it has time to hit the ground. So... yay! 

 Investigation: Mars

OK, let's cool off and head to the next, and final, planet for the day: Mars. The Red Planet is known for brewing up some serious dust storms. Earth has dust storms too, but not like the ones on Mars. On Mars, a dust storm can get pretty intense in a matter of hours, and take over the entire planet within a few days.

A lot of Martian dust storms actually come from the same place: Hellas Basin, the name of a deep crater on Mars. The crater was formed billions of years ago when a huge asteroid hit the surface of the planet. The crater is filled with dust at the bottom, but the temperature at the bottom of the crater can be ten degrees cooler than the temperature at the top. This difference in temperature creates wind that picks up the dust, which then creates a storm that takes over the basin, and then the planet. And you thought your room was dusty!

After all these high and low temperatures, acid rain, and dust attacks, I'm ready for a good, old fashioned thunderstorm. So, let's head home to Earth.


And now you know what to pack if you ever take a trip to Mercury, Venus, or Mars. You've gotta prepare for extreme swings in temperature on Mercury, face-meltingly hot hot heat on Venus, and nasty planet-wide dust storms on Mars. But, just like out planet, the rocky planets all have weather and climates of their own. Sometimes they're similar to what we have here on Earth.

And sometimes, they're more extreme! And speaking of extreme, check out our next episode to find out what the weather's like on gas giants: planets with no surface at all! I'll leave you with one teeny, tiny hint on what to expect: diamond rain. See you soon!