At this point, the Earth comparisons start to dwindle, since the scale of these things reach a point that there is no analog on our planet. Neptune's winds definitely fits the bill. The highest natural wind ever recorded on Earth was on Mt Washington New Hampshire back in 1934, and it reached 231 Mph. Neptune's wind regularly coasts at, get this, 600 meters per second. I did the math, and I can't help but think something must be off, because that figures to winds of 1,324 miles per hour. For perspective, the speed of sound is 768 miles per hour.
Neptune is home to some of the most violent weather in the solar system (well, duh...), and fortunately since it has no surface, we don't have to worry about anyone ever trying to land there. Like Jupiter, Neptune has it's own spot, called the Great Dark Spot (so imaginative, those scientists...), but unlike Jupiter's, which is a giant storm filled with clouds, Neptune's is a giant cyclonic wind with no clouds. In fact, it is basically a giant hole in the planet, where the winds are spinning so fast that the atmosphere itself opened up and shows off the planet's undergarments. The spot comes and goes every few years, behaving a bit more like Earth hurricanes (except, you know, they last for years), which makes sense since seasons on Neptune last 40 years.
Mars's Dust Storms
You would think that since Mars is little more than half the size of Earth that things there would be less extreme, but that just isn't the case. In fact, almost everything is bigger; bigger canyons, bigger glaciers, bigger volcanoes. In fact, the only reason the volcanoes didn't make the list is because they are all extinct. However, our tiny red neighbor from the way-out-there-verse has one thing that blows the rest away (pardon the pun); the biggest dust storms in the solar system. For those of you that aren't die hard Doom fans, this is Mars on a normal day:
Mars has dust storms fairly regularly, but sometimes they grow in scope to the point that even millions of miles away, the thought is terrifying. Some of the storms could easily cover an entire continent or two on Earth, although sometimes they grow to cover the entire planet. The really severe storms kick up enough dust to actually cause the planet to warm up as it traps sunlight. If mankind ever sets up a base on Mars, you can just about count on it being the new universal Australia, where only the criminals are sent.
Venus: The Worst Possible Conclusion of Global Warming
Whether you think humans are causing global warming or not, it's a fact, sometimes the temperature of the Earth changes and sometimes those changes are a warming trend. Most worst case scenarios wind up with a Waterworld-type conclusion with flooded cities and destitute, hungry people with no land to farm and Kevin Costner roaming free in tight clothing (eek...) Even that horror pales in comparison to what is happening on the pretty, white "star" many of us see every night as the sun goes down.
Venus's surface reveals her to be the pock-marked h00k*r that she is beneath that beautiful veil of cloud-makeup. The clouds themselves are pure acid rain; sulfuric acid. The ambient air temperature changes little from day to night, averaging 460 degrees Fahrenheit nearly all the time. In addition to the ungodly heat and everything-melting rain, the air pressure on the surface of the planet is 93 times that of Earth at sea level. Imagine being at the bottom of the ocean, and that the ocean was hot enough to melt metal and highly corrosive.
The really scary thing is that scientists have found evidence that suggests that a billion years ago, Venus was a lot like Earth in terms of atmosphere and water content, but that a "runaway greenhouse effect" resulted in its current state.
- - Volcanoes on Io: http://sos.noaa.gov/images/Solar_System/io.jpg http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/twf_html/io_lava.jpg
- - Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5d/Jupiter_showing_SL9_impact_sites.jpg/636px-Jupiter_showing_SL9_impact_sites.jpg
- - Jupiter's great Red Spot: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/Jupiter-Earth-Spot_comparison.jpg/699px-Jupiter-Earth-Spot_comparison.jpg http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/usa/images-2/2001-a-space-odyssey-ape-monolith.jpg
- - Neptune's Winds : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Neptune_clouds.jpg
- - Mars's Dust Storms: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Mars_Hubble.jpg
- - Venus: The Worst Possible Conclusion of Global Warming: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Venuspioneeruv.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Venus_globe.jpg/600px-Venus_globe.jpg