Although it is impossible to tell what is and isn't false color (aside from the adage that it probably is false). It's inarguable that no picture of a gas giant shows any depth or significant transparency. Of course this could just be because a single camera lacks depth perception, and since the planets are gas almost completely gas, there are no underlying boundaries to detect any transparency.

In particular what is the visibility inside the various conditions on Jupiter? Could you see 1,000 km in every direction, or is it more like a constant fog or dust storm (with frozen ammonia instead of dust)? What if you brought your own light source?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a different question about a different planet, but the image is worth a look: Refraction by Saturn's atmosphere - how dense is it here? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 17, 2020 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ Also see this recent question about why photos of Jupiter typically look sharp: astronomy.stackexchange.com/q/36517/16685 $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jun 17, 2020 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ "on Jupiter" This is a problem as Jupiter has no solid surface to speak of. It goes from gas to liquid to denser liquid until it become something else. It's not even known if it has a state like a solid. There's no boundary layer to say you're "on". $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2020 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


What you see are clouds, big clouds, and these are as opaque as the cumulus clouds on Earth. The pale bands are ammonia clouds and the darker bands are ammonium hydrosulphide clouds. The ammonia clouds form above the hydrosulphide clouds In the polar regions you can see deeper, down to the water clouds that lie beneath the ammonia clouds.

There is a layer of atmospheric haze that is above the cloud layers, it is easiest to see in the polar regions.

The difference between the layers is on the order of 50-100km. If you were in a cloud, your visibility would be pretty limited and as you descended through 50km of cloud, it would get pretty dark. But like on Earth, there would be gaps and clear bands, between the layers of cloud.


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