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Beyond Earthly Skies

Jet Streams on Uranus and Neptune

4 Jun 2013, 01:00 UTC
Jet Streams on Uranus and Neptune
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Eight from the Sun to see in orbit.But no one mentions Neptune for that odyssey.What is it about it.So vast it is...Sixty Earths could sit within its grasp.- Lawrence S. Pertillar, “Neptune”, stanza 3 line 1-5.Figure 1: An illustration of Neptune’s interior.In the Solar System, the known planets can be classified into three categories - terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars), gas giant planets (Jupiter and Saturn) and ice giant planets (Uranus and Neptune). Compared to the other planets in the Solar System, very little is known about Uranus and Neptune because the only spacecraft to have ever visited them was NASA’s Voyager 2 which flew by Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989. The bulk composition of an ice giant planet is very different from a gas giant planet such as Jupiter or Saturn. An ice giant planet consists of a rocky core, an icy mantle and an outer gaseous hydrogen-helium envelop. The icy mantle comprises the bulk of the planet’s mass and is what defines an ice giant planet. In contrast, a gas giant planet is almost entirely made of hydrogen and helium. Figure 2: Zonal winds on Uranus and Neptune. The data points correspond to atmospheric ...

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