Merrillville Community Planetarium
Bringing the Universe to the Merrillville Schools and Northwest Indiana

Helium Rain on Jupiter

In 1995, the spacecraft Galileo entered Jupiter’s atmosphere and discovered the upper atmosphere is very low in atoms of helium and neon. Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley ran simulations to solve this mystery. They believe that helium condenses as mist, forming clouds in the upper atmosphere. As the droplets get larger, they eventually fall as rain into the lower atmosphere. Since neon mixes and bonds very easily with helium, scientists believe neon dissolves in the helium and rains down together.