Rain, or precipitation, is such a common occurrence on earth that it can be difficult to imagine life without it. More than that, life really would be impossible if rain did not exist.
Rain is part of the natural weather cycle that provides most of the freshwater we have on planet earth. This freshwater has created the perfect conditions for many different kinds of life, creating ecosystems that allow plants to grow and animals to support each other in life and death.
With such a common occurrence here on earth, you might be wondering what the weather systems of other planets in our solar system might look like.
For example, do we see similar weather patterns in planets at the far reaches of our solar system like Pluto? Perhaps you’re wondering if it rains there.
It’s sad to say that the general scientific consensus is that it does not rain on Pluto. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its own unique weather systems.
Below is an exploration of the weather on the dwarf planet Pluto, including an exploration as to how a planet can rain and why it likely does not.
We’ve also included a discussion of the weather systems of other planets in the solar system, as well as a short FAQ to explain some of the more technical terms in this article.
What is Pluto?
To explain some of the conditions which make rain impossible on Pluto, first, we must explore a little about what Pluto is as well as its position in space.
Pluto was once known as the ninth planet in our solar system. Discovered in 1930, it exists in the Kuiper Belt – a ring of different planetary bodies beyond the orbit of the Ice Giant Neptune.
Similar to most planets past Neptune, it is made almost entirely of ice and rock. Pluto isn’t a big planet – to put this in perspective it’s much smaller than earth and smaller even than the moon.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the status of Pluto was questioned. Astronomers began to find several other celestial bodies of comparable sizes around the Kuiper Belt.
Eventually, it became difficult to distinguish Pluto from these other dwarf planets, and scientists were forced to define the term planet. Unfortunately for Pluto, it did not meet the requirements to become one and was demoted from planet to dwarf planet.
Pluto is 5.2924 billion km away from earth, which means it would take around 9 years to get to, which in turn makes it very difficult to gather information about. That said, we can make assumptions about the weather on Pluto because of what we already know about other planets, as well as weather systems on earth.
Rain On Earth
The reason it rains on earth is because of something we call the water cycle. It has also been called the hydrologic cycle, and is the process in which there is a constant circuit of water from the oceans, up to the atmosphere above our head, and then down to earth – so on and so forth.
Water that exists in rivers, lakes, and oceans will evaporate and rise up into the atmosphere. This water then condenses into what we know as clouds, which eventually burst and fall to the ground as rain.
After this, the fallen rainwater will evaporate and rise into the atmosphere once again. This cycle is one of the main reasons why we have life on earth, as all life consists mostly of water.
Weather On Pluto
When you learn that Pluto is classified as an ice planet, you might think it obvious that it will have similar weather conditions as earth. Perhaps it is a frozen dessert, such as Antarctica. But in truth, the ice on the surface of Pluto is most likely made of methane, carbon monoxide, and frozen nitrogen.
These elements do not work the same way as ice on our planet, which is made from hydrogen and oxygen atoms – better known as H20, and therefore do not work in the same way as ice on our planet is contributing to the water cycle.
Pluto’s temperature is also much colder than anywhere we might find on earth. Its average temperature is thought to be around -234℃. This also means that there isn’t enough heat for some of the more general mechanics you might find on earth.
For example, if Pluto did have liquid water or ice as we do, there is not enough heat for evaporation to occur. More than this, the only elements that could exist on its surface without freezing would be neon, helium, and hydrogen.
Weather On Other Planets In The Solar System
When discussing whether or other planets, it’s important to realize that just because our planet is the only weather system we have that allows us to live, that doesn’t mean there isn’t diverse weather on other planets.
For example, on Venus, it rains acid. This is because of a reaction of sulfur dioxide and water that rests in the planet’s atmosphere.
Mars has regular dust storms, and sometimes gigantic dust storms that pass over the entirety of the planet. Temperatures on Mars are also drastically different from planets like Pluto, reaching highs of 30℃.
Rain does actually exist on other planets, though it’s not the same as rain on Earth. For example, on Jupiter, it rains a kind of concentrated helium – though it’s hard to call this actual rain in the same way we know it.
The truth is, there is still a lot for scientists to learn about the weather on Pluto. Because of how far away it is, we don’t know exactly what happens on its surface. We mostly have assumptions, which scientists are able to make from the data they already have.
That said, it is most likely that it does not rain on pluto, though there is some indication that it might snow instead. Though, as with other planets in the solar system – snow does not mean the same thing as what we know here on earth and is most likely composed of many different elements.
We hope this has given you some insight into the weather patterns of Pluto, as well as other planets in our solar system and ours here on earth. Below is a short FAQ section to explore some of the more technical terms in this article.
What is the Kuiper Belt?
The Kuiper Belt is an area of the solar system that exists beyond the Ice Planet Neptune. It is home to a variety of celestial bodies including asteroids, dwarf planets, and comets.
How big is Pluto when compared to Earth?
Pluto is much smaller than earth. It has a radius of 1.188.3km and is around ⅙ of the size of the earth. To put it in a better perspective, Pluto would be about half the size of Australia.
Could we live on Pluto?
As it stands, it is very unlikely life would be able to survive on the hostile surface of Pluto. Pluto is extremely cold and has a much lower atmosphere than earth.
Any weather patterns of Pluto are likely to be volatile and would also make life impossible. If you were to land on Pluto as you are right this moment, you would likely suffocate and freeze to death.
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