Rain on Earth is something we are well acquainted with. The size and shape is relatively predictable, and although we notice more extreme weather and lack of rain in some parts of the world (thanks to climate change, for which we are otherwise to blame), the rain itself does not change much. Turns out, the same could be true on other planets, and new research suggests that while rain composition could vary dramatically on extraterrestrial worlds, raindrops would look very good on human travelers.
The research, which was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, suggests that the physics that determine how water droplets form and fall to Earth are likely to result in similar precipitation on other planets, even if the composition of the “rain” differs significantly. By modeling raindrops falling through the atmospheres of planets like Jupiter and Saturn, which are vastly different from rocky planets like Earth, they found that the type of planet is not as important when it comes to rain.
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Researchers have simulated precipitation through different types of atmospheres and found that what determines the size of raindrops on Earth seems to be universally correct. When the drops are too small, they evaporate before they come to the surface, but when they are too large, they eventually split into smaller drops before impact. The middle path is where the vast majority of droplets end up after falling at a considerable distance, regardless of the type of atmosphere present or the composition of the rain itself.
Some worlds have a little more rain than Earth, like Saturn’s moon Titan. Raindrops on Titan, made of methane rather than liquid water, are thought to be about twice the size of raindrops on Earth, but that’s still very little change for such a wild planet. It sounds wild, but it makes a lot of sense. Physics does not care which planet you are on and everything will rule in the same way.
Even more exciting is that we will soon be able to have telescope technology for even more accurate rain estimates on other worlds, that is, if the James Webb Space Telescope is ever launched.
“Now with instruments like [the James Webb Space Telescope], which will hopefully be launched soon, we will have the ability to discover really fine spectra of exoplanetary atmospheres, including those that are much colder than we can normally characterize, in which clouds and rain will appear, ”planetary scientist Tristan Giljo said. who was not part of the research team, said of the work. “So these types of tools as they are developed will be very useful and important for interpreting these spectra.”
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