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Explore! Jupiter's Family Secrets

Weather Stations: How's the Weather on Jupiter?


In this open-ended inquiry, children build their own weather instruments from common materials. Their designs, intended for use on a spacecraft exploring Jupiter, may be tested on Earth.

What's the Point?


The following materials are for this Weather Stations activity.
Three sets are recommended for a station:

For each child:


Facilitator's Note: This activity is intended as an open-ended inquiry. If you choose to provide more guidance, specifications for creating weather instruments using these craft materials are described in the following projects:


1. Introduce the activity with a discussion about weather.

2. Ask the children to imagine that they are sending a spacecraft to Jupiter to record its weather conditions. Their imaginary spacecraft will be able to do something real spacecraft haven’t been able to do: dive into the atmosphere! It will withstand the planet's cold outer layers, hot interior, turbulent storms, and immense pressures. Explain that they will use craft materials and tools to create their own scientific instruments for the spacecraft. Have them describe or draw pictures of their creations in their journals.

3. Optional: Invite the children to test their designs outdoors. Have them take measurements over a set period of time (ranging from an hour to several months). Ask them to record the measurements in their journals.


NASA engineers worked with scientists to design scientific instruments for the Juno mission to Jupiter. It will measure the components of the atmosphere and temperatures at different depths. Since the spacecraft will observe the planet only from orbit, its tools will be similar to those used by satellites to study Earth's weather. Scientists have been watching Jupiter's storms for hundreds of years through telescopes and then recently, through cameras on spacecraft orbiting or flying by the planet.Juno will measure the atmosphere's temperature and amounts of water and ammonia at different depths. It will "see" more deeply than any spacecraft has before! Scientists will use this information to understand how Jupiter can have such strong winds deep inside and how the bands are formed. Juno will also continue to document the appearance of storms as it orbits Jupiter, and students will work with scientists to take those pictures with JunoCam.