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Last Post 12 Apr 2010 11:13 AM by  Kris Sigsbee
sun's energy on other planets
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11 Apr 2010 03:19 PM

    Carmen W,

    Does the sun effect other planets, beyond mars, since there so far away?

    Tags: Jupiter, Saturn, Termination Shock, Weather

    Kris Sigsbee



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    Posts:415
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    12 Apr 2010 11:13 AM

    Hi Carmen,

    That's a great question! The answer is yes, but the Sun does not necessarily affect these planets in the same way as it does Earth.

    Both Earth and the outer planets are affected by disturbances in the solar wind like coronal mass ejections (CMES). Although the aurora on Jupiter are strongly influenced by Jupiter's moon Io, the solar wind has also been observed to have an effect on Jupiter's magnetosphere. CMEs can also affect the aurora on Saturn. Radio waves and particles associated with CMEs have even helped scientists understand the location and structure of the termination shock. The termination shock is the boundary between our Sun's solar wind and the interstellar medium. The exact location of the termination shock depends upon variations in the solar wind, but it is located beyond the orbit of Pluto.

    How sunlight affects the outer planets is a completely different story. The intensity of sunlight falls off approximately as the square of the distance away from the Sun, so the further a planet is away from the Sun, the less energy it receives in the form of sunlight. On Earth, weather is driven mainly by energy in the form of heat from the Sun. However, Jupiter emits more heat energy than it receives from the Sun, so the weather on Jupiter is appears to be caused mainly by heat generated deep inside the planet Jupiter.

    Kris

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