Names For Jupiters Belts And Zones



Approximate latitude

north polar region


47 to 90 degrees

north-north temperate belt


43 degrees

north temperate zone


35 degrees

north temperate belt


23 to 35 degrees

north tropical zone


15 to 20 degrees

north equatorial belt


10 to 15 degrees

equatorial zone (north)


3 degrees

equatorial belt


0 degrees

equatorial zone (south)


-3 degrees

southern equatorial belt


-10 to -22 degrees

Great Red Spot


-22 degrees

south tropical zone


-25 degrees

south temperate belt


-29 degrees

south temperate zone


-37 degrees

white oval south


-35 to -37 degrees

south-south temperate belt


-41 degrees

south polar region


-45 to -90 degrees

the very outermost reaches of the solar system, where temperatures were cold enough to condense nitrogen. A second theory is that all of Jupiter formed much farther out from the Sun, in those cold regions. This theory is considered more seriously now that giant, super-Jupiter-sized gas planets have been found orbiting very closely around their stars in other solar systems elsewhere in this galaxy. A huge mass like Jupiter, upon losing only small amounts of its velocity, could fall into a substantially lower orbit than its original.

The visible surface of Jupiter is about 625 miles (1,000 km) deep into its atmosphere because the vast majority of that depth is clear (for more, see the sidebar "Optical Depth" on page 46). The cloud layer is very thin, and in the large scale consists of bands parallel to the planet's equator, covering the entire planet. The bands on the planet are stable enough that they have been assigned names, as listed in the table on page 43.These bands are dark belts and light zones created by strong east-west winds in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. The range of colors seen in the clouds are not caused by the ammonia or water that make up most of the cloud composition but by minute amounts of sulfur and phosphorus compounds so colorful that they serve to color the clouds of ammonia they are in. The light zones are regions of upwelling air, forming ammonia cirrus clouds. The dark belts are regions where the cooler atmosphere moves downward. Because there are no ammonia clouds, instruments can see deeper into the atmosphere, to where the clouds are highly colored.The speed of the main equatorial jet is about 190 miles per hour (300 km/hr), but local winds in cloud tops are much higher.

The striking zonal patterns and very high winds on Jupiter have been a mystery for planetary scientists (zonal patterns circle a planet parallel to the equator, while sectoral patterns are in vertical slices from pole to pole, like orange sections). Some think that the fast rotation is only in a thin upper atmosphere, driven by the very slight solar heat input. Others think that the strong rotation is generated deep in the planet by convection and transferred to the surface. New mathematical modeling efforts have reproduced the circulation patterns on Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune.The researchers, from the University of South Florida and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, found that when there was little internal friction in the fluid being studied, with fast rotation of the planet and a low input of heat from the Sun, the planetary atmosphere organized itself into the banded patterns seen on these planets.

In Jupiter's lower atmosphere, the troposphere, there is strong convection. Convection is mixing due to temperature or density differences in a liquid or gas. One example of convection is boiling oatmeal in a pot: Heat put in at the bottom of the pot causes the water and oatmeal at the bottom to expand. Almost every material expands when it is heated, and since it retains its original mass, it becomes less dense. Lowering the density of the material at the bottom makes it buoyant, and it rises to the top. Cooler material from the top sinks to the bottom to take its place, and the cycle continues. Gentle convection can create "cells," regular patterns of circulation with material

Jupiter's Atmospheric Temperature



-Tropopause -Troposphere

-Tropopause -Troposphere

moving up and down. More violent convection can become turbulent, with currents moving on many length scales. In general, though, convection is caused by a density difference between adjacent pieces of material; the light piece will rise, and the denser piece will sink, initiating a cycle.The differences in density can be caused by temperature, as in the boiling oatmeal case, or the differences in density can be caused by differing compositions.

The troposphere is defined as the lowest part of the atmosphere, where temperature falls with increasing altitude (see figure above). This means that colder, denser gases from the upper troposphere will be continuously falling down to displace the more buoyant and

Temperatures in Jupiter's atmosphere have been measured remotely and by probes.

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