Top Five: Amazing space weather around the Solar System

From massive temperature swings to powerful auroras, here’s five awesome facts about cosmic climates.


Rain falls on Titan every 1,000 years

Titan’s climate cycle is quite similar to Earth’s, except it involves liquid methane instead of water. There are many centuries between Titan’s rainstorms on average but, when they occur, they can dump metres’ worth of methane rain.

Auroras generate one trillion watts of power

Auroras, the interaction of charged particles with the Sun in the upper atmosphere, can generate the equivalent power to a sixteenth of that used by humans around the world.

Neptune’s winds are twice the speed of sound on Earth

You might think Earth is breezy, but spare a thought for Neptune. It has the most powerful winds in the Solar System, reaching up to 2,500kph (1,600mph) in some instances.

The temperature on Mars can swing by 150 degrees in a day

Daytime on Mars can be a rather comfortable 25 °C (80 °F) as the Sun makes its way through the thin atmosphere, but at night the lack of sunlight coupled with the minimal atmosphere can see the temperature drop to almost -130 °C (-200 °F).

Pluto freezes over every century

Pluto’s highly elliptical orbit around the Sun takes about 248 years and, when it reaches its furthest point, its gases freeze and the atmosphere collapses. As it moves back towards the Sun, the temperature rises and the ice turns back to gas.

And here’s a bonus one…

A solar flare caused a £4bn blackout in Canada

Solar flares can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, and on 13 March 1989 one such storm caused a blackout in Quebec, Canada, resulting in an estimated £4 billion ($6.5 billion) loss to the Canadian economy.

Image courtesy of NASA

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