Jupiter whips up 380mph winds

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The next time gales wreak havoc with our lives, it may be helpful to remember that the winds on Jupiter make our storms seem like mild breezes by comparison.

Data that has emerged from the Galileo probe, which parachuted into Jupiter's thick atmosphere in December 1995, shows that Jovian winds can blow at up to 380mph. It shows wind speeds picking up with depth and reaching much greater velocities than had been estimated.

Scientists led by David Atkinson, from the University of Idaho in Moscow, USA, published their findings yesterday in the science journal Nature. The cause of the high winds is a mystery. "Whether these winds are driven by internal heat or absorbed sunlight remains uncertain," wrote the scientists.