SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Happy day one of World Space Week! We all know how wild weather on Earth is…between tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, heat waves, freezing temperatures, and even snow reaching the southeast (I think I covered just about everything). But what if I told you…weather on Earth isn’t nearly as wild as we think? What if the weather on other planets are way more extreme to anything we’ve seen here?
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. While only 36 million miles away from it, the sun will appear 3 times larger and 10 times brighter than here on Earth. This is the smallest planet, slightly larger than our own moon. It is also the fastest orbiting planet with its full orbit (one year) lasting only 88 days. Unlike it’s orbit, a full earth day on Mercury would take a staggering 176 days. That is twice as long as a full year on the planet.
This planet has such a thin (practically non-existing) atmosphere that daytime heating easily escapes at night, which allows temperatures to plummet to a piercingly cold temperature of -300 degrees. Mercury experiences around an 1000-degree difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. During the day, temperatures can easily soar to around 800 degrees.
Also because of it’s barely existing atmosphere, the planet doesn’t experience weather like rain or storms. This planet sits practically upright, tilting only about 2 degrees. Because of its upright tilt, the planet does not experience seasons like we do on earth.
Venus is a planet known for heat that can’t be beat. This is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though this planet is farther from the sun than Mercury. Venus is 67 million miles away from the sun.
Unlike Mercury, Venus is covered in a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and clouds of sulfuric acid. Together, these gases trap in the heat both at night and during the day. This allows temperatures to reach 880 degrees during the day…that can melt lead. The dense layer of clouds scatters most of the sunlight back out to space. This allows it to appear very bright at night and be one of the brightest objects in our night’s sky.
This planet rotates very slowly. A full day on Venus would take 243 Earth days. This is the longest day of any planet. While the planet itself rotates very slow, the winds howl at hurricane force speed. This sends clouds racing around the planet every couple of days.
Mars is mostly a desert like planet with areas of high and low pressure that influence the planet’s weather, much like here on earth. These areas of pressure create giant dust storms and large dust devils that cover the planet for weeks.
This planet is 141 million miles away from the sun. It has a very similar full day length at 24.6 hours but it takes close to twice as long to revolve around the sun. A full year takes 687 days.
As another planet with a thin atmosphere, a summer day can get as warm as 70-80 degrees. In winter, temperatures fall to -200 degrees. Mars has distinct seasons. However, they vary in length because of the planet’s longer, egg-shaped orbit.
Huge shout out to NASA and their Solar System Exploration website for giving me an in depth look at each of our planets in the solar system.