|Are there clouds on other planets? If so,
wouldn't there have to be water to form the coulds?
|Question Date: 2005-03-31|
There are indeed clouds on other planets. However, none of the clouds you can see in local planet images are composed of water droplets. Venus is perpetually surrounded by clouds -- but they are composed of largely of Sulfuric Acid in the Carbon Dioxide atmosphere. Clouds on the gas giants are
mostly methane and ammonia in the dominant
hydrogen atmosphere, and clouds occur on all 4 of the gas giants.
Recently, there has been a
flurry of study of the methane/ammonia and complex
hydrocarbon clouds on Titan (a large moon of
Saturn). For planets outside of the orbit of Mars, water is usually a rock -- liquid water is the equivalent of molten lava in cryogenic volcanoes on the moons of the gas giants.
Inside the orbit of the earth, Venus has clouds -- but they are Sulfuric Acid with some Ferric Chloride in the lower layers. On the other hand, there are now more than 160 known extrasolar planets -- and the number is likely to grow rapidly in the next few years. A future space-based interferometric spectroscope may well detect water based clouds outside of the solar system in the future.
Yes, there are clouds, but these clouds can also
be made of other substances than water. For
example, the planet Saturn has water clouds as
well as ammonia clouds.
Yes, there are clouds on other planets, but
instead of water molecules, they are composed of
different gases and particles.
Clouds can form without water. Clouds of liquid
water droplets exist on Earth and on Venus (at
high enough altitude that the temperature is
reasonable), but clouds containing water ice
crystals are found on Earth, Mars, Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.Clouds of ammonia and methane are found on Jupiter out. I do not know what the clouds of Saturn's moon Titan include, but it is a great deal of methane and similar compounds. Only Mercury and Pluto have no clouds whatsoever (and that's if you call Pluto a planet).
There are clouds on other planets, but Earth is the only planet in our solar system with clouds
made almost entirely of water (or ice). Strictly speaking, clouds are collections of particles that are suspended in a gas and are visible -- they do not have to be water, though on Earth they generally are.
Examples from earth include: smoke (tiny carbon/dust particles), tiny ice crystals (high altitude clouds), tiny liquid droplets (regular clouds).
Clouds on Venus are composed of sulfuric acid (which is extremely corrosive and could burn through our skin). The atmosphere of Venus is much hotter than Earth (470 C at the surface) and sulfuric acid has a much higher boiling point than water (340 C).
Clouds on Jupiter are made of hydrogen, with trace amounts of ammonia, methane, and water. Jupiter is much colder than Earth, with an outer temperature of roughly -150 C.
A cloud is a visible mass of condensed water
droplets or ice crystals suspended in the
atmosphere above Earth's (or another planetary
Clouds on other planets often
consist of material other than water, depending on
local atmospheric conditions (what gases are
present, and the temperature). Those clouds are
not the kind of clouds that we have here on
Earth. Nor the clouds neither the atmospheric
conditions permit other planets to get water rain
or snow, and "our kind" of life can not be
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