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belt-zone circulation

The atmospheric circulation typical of Jovian planets. Dark belts and bright zones encircle the planet parallel to its equator.

critical point

The temperature and pressure at which the vapor and liquid phases of a material have the same density.

liquid metallic hydrogen

A form of hydrogen under high pressure that is a good electrical conductor.


The flattening of a spherical body, usually caused by rotation.

Io plasma torus

The doughnut-shaped cloud of ionized gas that encloses the orbit of Jupiter's moon, Io.

Io flux tube

A tube of magnetic lines and electric currents connecting Io and Jupiter.


Dark bands of low pressure where falling clouds circle Jupiter parallel to its equator; generally red, brown, or blue-green in color.


Bright bands of high pressure where rising clouds circle Jupiter parallel to its equator; generally white in color.

forward scattering

The optical property of finely divided particles with wavelengths close to the wavelength of light to preferentially direct light in the original direction of the light's travel. (ex: visual light; smoke sized particles)

Roche limit

The minimum distance between a parent body and a satellite that holds itself together by its own gravity. If a satellite's orbit brings it within its parent body's Roche limit, tidal forces will pull the satellite apart.

gossamer rings

The dimmest part of Jupiter's ring produced by dust particles orbiting near small moons.

tidal heating

The heating of a planet or satellite because of friction caused by tides.

grooved terrain

Region of the surface of Ganymede consisting of bright, parallel grooves.

shepherd satellites

A satellite that, by its gravitational field, confines particles to a planetary ring.

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