Color

Previously, we discussed the observation of Jupiter's colors. But, what causes the color in Jupiter's atmosphere? As we might surmise, that explanation is not so easily forthcoming. The different colors represent clouds with different compositions and different vertical structures [88]. The understanding of color in Jupiter's atmosphere is dependent upon some basic understanding of atmosphere. So, first, let us try to understand some basic principles about atmospheric structure.

Jupiter's atmosphere is divided into four main layers. These layers are the troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, and ionosphere (Fig. 4.1). The boundaries of the troposphere and stratosphere are determined by atmospheric pressure and temperature, both of which are interrelated, as temperature changes with height in atmosphere.

Jupiter emits almost twice as much heat as it receives from the Sun. This heat is emitted upward as infrared radiation. As this heat is radiated upward, it drives the changes in Jupiter's weather. Similar to Earth, temperatures in Jupiter's atmosphere change with altitude. Unlike Earth, Jupiter has no hard surface that we can see. On Earth we measure altitude from 'sea level.' Jupiter has no sea level, so here scientists make an assumption. On Earth we measure pressure in bars. Jupiter scientists use the same scale of measurement and assume that 1 bar is sea level for Jupiter. So that 1 bar of pressure is the same as an altitude of zero.

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