Frank Sinatra crooned: "Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars." Well, the answer, Frank, is that Jupiter's spring is indistinguishable from the rest of the year, while the Martian spring is pretty dusty. On Venus, seasons are short, lasting just 55 to 58 days each. On Saturn, a season can last for seven years, but that's a mere blink of an eye compared to Neptune, where each season can last for 40 long years.
A planet's weather is affected by the tilt of its axis (which causes the seasons), the shape of its orbit around the sun, the presence or absence of a significant atmosphere, its average distance from the sun, and the length of its day.
spring arrives in the northern hemisphere on Earth, IBTimesUK takes a quick trip around the solar system to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars (and Saturn).
Two faces of the planet Mars show how a global dust storm engulfed it with the onset of Martian spring in the southern hemisphere. When Hubble imaged Mars in June 2001, the seeds of the storm were brewing in the Hellas Basin (at 4 o'clock position). In the photo on the right, the storm had already been raging across the planet for nearly two months obscuring all surface features.
Early spring typically brings dust storms to northern polar regions of Mars. As the north polar cap begins to thaw, the temperature difference between the cold frost region and recently thawed surface results in swirling winds. The choppy dust clouds of at least three dust storms are visible in this mosaic of images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in 2002.
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This series of images shows warm-season features that might be evidence of salty liquid water active on Mars. These images come from observations of Newton crater, at 41.6 degrees south latitude, 202.3 degrees east longitude, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The series spans from early spring of one Mars year to mid-summer of the following year.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Sand dunes on Mars begin to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice in this image acquired by the HiRISE camera aboard Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The steep lee sides of the dunes are also ice-free along the crest, allowing sand to slide down the dune. Dark splotches are places where ice cracked earlier in spring, releasing sand
Reuters / Nasa
Because Saturn's axis is tilted as it orbits the sun, Saturn has seasons, like those of planet Earth – but Saturn's seasons last for over seven years. The Hubble Space Telescope took the above sequence of images about a year apart, starting on the left in 1996 and ending on the right in 2000.
A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, measures 3,200 miles (5,150km) across and is larger than the planet Mercury. As the seasons change in the Saturnian system, and spring comes to the north and autumn to the south, the azure blue in the northern hemisphere fades and the southern hemisphere, in its approach to winter, taqkes on a bluish hue.
This movie from Cassini, made possible only as Saturn's north pole emerged from winter darkness, shows a jet stream that follows a hexagon-shaped path which has long puzzled scientists. The hexagon was hidden in darkness during the winter of Saturn's long year, a year that is equal to about 29 Earth years. But as the planet approached its August 2009 equinox and signalled the start of northern spring, the hexagon was revealed to Cassini's cameras. Scientists think the hexagon is a meandering jet stream at 77 degrees north latitude, but they don't know what controls the path the stream takes.
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Saturn's rings form a huge sundial. This sundial, however, determines only the season of Saturn, not the time of day. In 2009, during Saturn's equinox, the thin rings threw almost no shadows on to Saturn, since the ring plane pointed directly toward the sun. As Saturn continued in its orbit around the sun, however, the ring shadows become increasingly wider and cast further south. Cassini has been exploring Saturn, its rings, and its moons since 2004, and is expected to continue until at least the maximum elongation of Saturn's shadows occurs in 2017. Although they look solid, Saturn's rings are likely less than 50 metres thick and consist of individually orbiting bits of ice and rock ranging in size from grains of sand to barn-sized boulders.
Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA
Jupiter has an axial tilt of only three degrees, so there is no difference between the seasons. However, because of its distance from the sun, seasons change more slowly. The length of each season is roughly three years. Scientists believe that Jupiter's great red spot is actually a hurricane that has been raging for more than 400 years
This colour movie of Jupiter from Nasa's Cassini spacecraft shows what it would look like to peel the entire globe of Jupiter and stretch it out. Various patterns of motion are apparent at the cloudtop level seen here. The great red spot shows its counterclockwise rotatio. To the east (right) of the red spot, oval storms roll over and pass each other.
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
An animation of a sequence of images taken by the Voyager 1 probe of the planet Jupiter. One frame was taken every Jupiter day (about 10 hours)