From the March 2011 issue

What causes the highly differentiated color banding on Jupiter?

Dennis Hollingworth, Redondo Beach, California
By | Published: March 28, 2011 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Jupiter’s striped atmosphere results from the interaction of different chemicals and varying wind patterns. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Clouds and gases flowing in Jupiter’s atmosphere (and those of the other giant planets as well) create the banded patterns.

Most of Jupiter’s atmosphere is hydrogen and the visible clouds are thought to be ammonia, but there are traces of other chemical compounds.