The biggest red dot on Jupiter is the largest hurricane in the solar system – it has been raging for two centuries. U.S. space exploration shows Juno’s measurements now extending below the hurricane’s cloud cover.
Up to 3000 kilometers, like the Juno mission, jet storms orbiting the planet in a ring are much deeper than previously thought. Participating research groups Report in “Science” magazine.
Jupiter’s color lines were discovered in the early 17th century
Already in the early 17th century – shortly after the invention of the telescope – astronomers discovered different colored lines in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Planetary researchers now know that these are parts of different temperature and chemical composition.
These differences also contribute to the different light and dark colors of the ribbons. At the boundaries of the atmospheric belts, large storms – called jets – rage with wind speeds of up to 1,500 kilometers per hour.
Bigger storm than our Earth
“Big Red Spot” is really a monster storm. These hurricanes of all sizes have passed since 1830. At the end of the 19th century it reached its largest size with a length of 40,000 km and a width of 14,000 km. It has now shrunk to 16,000 kilometers long – still larger than our Earth with a diameter of 12,700 kilometers.
“We don’t know how all the structures in Jupiter’s atmosphere change downward,” explains Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio (Texas, USA). “Theories about this range from shallow weather events to deep vertical currents.”
Take a deeper look at the big red dot
So the study of the atmosphere of the largest planet in our solar system is one of the most important tasks of the Juno space exploration, which was launched in August 2011 and has been orbiting Jupiter since July 2016. With the help of the microwave, Bolton and his team looked deeper into the Great Red Spot.
To the surprise of researchers, the hurricane reached below the cloud cover of the planet. There should be rainfall and strong depressions, which can play an important role in the formation and maintenance of the big red dot.
In parallel to these measurements, Marcia Barisi and her colleagues from the California Institute of Technology conducted the study. Minor disturbances in orbit Juno study. From this, researchers can predict density fluctuations in Jupiter’s atmosphere, thus gaining knowledge about the depth of storms.
Jet storms up to a depth of 3000 kilometers
So jet storms between atmospheric bands extend to a depth of 3000 kilometers – while the big red dot “only” extends below 500 kilometers.
“We don’t know why the Great Spot is so much flatter than jets,” Parisi and his colleagues write. The only guarantee is that the operating system for the hurricane will be completely different from the hurricanes on Earth: “The Earth’s surface plays an important role – and Jupiter does not have a solid surface.”
Juno is expected to be operational until 2025. Researchers may hope to gain more insight into the giant planet’s atmospheric phenomena.
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