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Last time, we learned that there is in fact weather on other planets. But those were the rocky planets, like Earth. What about the big gas giants? What's the weather like there? In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina takes us on a virtual tour of the gas giants and shows us what kind of weather we can expect.

///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/JPL/Space Science Institute
NASA / ESA / A. Simon, Goddard Space Flight Center

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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


 I hope you held on to your all-weather spacesuit from last episode, because the weather in this episode gets even weirder. Weirder than super powerful dust storms and acid rain? Yup. So say goodbye to Earth and the other rocky planets with solid surfaces. Today's all about the weather on gas giants. 

 Big Question

Before we take flight, though, let's get a little refresher on what weather is. We learned a few weeks ago that weather is the condition of the air, or atmosphere, of different parts of a planet. Even though there's only one atmosphere on Earth, the weather isn't the same everywhere, obviously. 

Things like temperature, humidity, and wind can change the atmosphere in a certain area. And together, they determine what the weather is like there. But, when you're talking about patterns of weather for a certain area, over long periods of time, you're talking about that area's climate. 

And as we saw first-hand, Earth and the rocky planets all have both weather and climate. Who could forget about the extremely high and low temperatures on Mercury, and the heat and acid rain in Venus, and the crazy dust storms on Mars? I'm still sweating from our trip to Venus! 

Good thing the gas giants are a little cooler. But, how else is the weather different on the planets farther from the Sun? Let's take a virtual trip to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune to see how extreme their weather is. 


First stop, Jupiter! You might want to bring your storm gear for this planet, and you know, be prepared to keep it on for years. And years. And then a few more years.

Jupiter is a big planet, and it's weather is equally big. It doesn't just have storms, it has storms! That's because the planet is surrounded by jet streams, or fast-moving winds, some of which are flowing in different directions. When these opposing air flows meet, they create big, long-lasting swirling storms. 

Storms like the giant Red Spot, a storm that's been brewing on the planet since possibly the sixteen hundreds. The sixteen hundreds! To make things even more interesting, the storm shrinks an grows is size. It doesn't always stay in the same spot. Although it always rotates, in a counter-clockwise direction below the planet's equator. And you thought storms on Earth could get wild!


Let's take cover on our next planet: Saturn. Not that Saturn is less extreme. In fact, it's awfully windy here, too. The winds on this planet can get up to eighteen hundred kilometers an hour. The strongest winds on Earth only get to about for hundred kilometers an hour.

These insanely fast Saturn winds combined with heat from the planet's interior are actually responsible for the yellow and gold bands we see in Saturn's surrounding atmosphere. So cold, but pretty! 


Next stop: Uranus. Much like it's gas giant neighbors, it's cold. The temperatures on Uranus can dip as low as negative two hundred twenty degrees Celsius! And like Jupiter, it has pretty big storms, with winds almost as strong as those on Saturn. 

But it has one weird weather trait. Get this: diamond rain. How does that happen? Well the atmosphere on Uranus has a lot of gas called methane in it. Methane is a greenhouse gas that explodes when you light it. The methane on Uranus is put under lots and and lots of pressure, which splits the gas into carbon and hydrogen. The carbon is then compressed under all that pressure into diamonds, which are pulled down, or, rained down, into the planet's core. 

So, if you ever need to get rich quick, head down to Uranus and check out it's diamond stache. You know, if you have the time to do a little space travel. 


On to our final gas giant: Neptune! Oh, what a surprise, Neptune also has extremely high winds, powerful storms, and cold temperatures. I'm sensing a pattern here. But on Earth, the sunlight drives our weather. Neptune gets about a thousand times less sunlight than we do. So, how do we explain it's wild weather? 

We don't. At least, not yet. Scientists aren't sure how this planet gets the energy for it's intense storms and winds. Which is fine by me. I love a good mystery, especially a good space mystery! 


So, if you're traveling to the gas giants, brace yourself for crazy storms and winds on Jupiter, Saturn Uranus, and Neptune. And maybe bring a big bag to stuff all those diamonds in. But, keep in mind, just like the rocky planets, the gas giants have weather sort of similar to what we have on Earth, just, you know, really amped up. 

I'm off to look for a warm, wind-free spot to spend my afternoon. And just in case, maybe I'll keep my eyes peeled for diamonds falling from the sky. You never know.