Roots of Great Red Spot of Jupiter revealed by Juno

14 December, 2017, 18:26 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • Jupiter's Great Red Spot is 200 miles deep says new research

"Juno data indicate that the solar system's most famous storm is nearly one-and-a-half Earths wide, and has roots that penetrate about 200 miles (300 kilometers) into the planet's atmosphere".

Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said, "One of the most basic questions about Jupiter's Great Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?"

NASA's Juno spacecraft is now traipsing around Jupiter, but it has no plans to pull a Cassini and dive into the planet's massive Great Red Spot storm.

The science instrument responsible for this in-depth revelation was Juno's Microwave Radiometer (MWR).

Jupiter's surface has some huge storm of crimson clouds bigger than the Earth raging on it.

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Juno's other discoveries at Jupiter include clusters of 600-mile-wide cyclones at the planet's poles and an uneven magnetic field that is weak in some places, but in others is 10 times as strong as anything found on Earth.

"Juno found that the Great Red Spot's roots go 50 to 100 times deeper than Earth's oceans and are warmer at the base than they are at the top", added Juno co-investigator Professor Andy Ingersoll, from Caltech.

Nobody knows for sure how long the Great Red Spot has been raging on Jupiter, but most researchers agree that it's been swirling for at least 350 years.

The storm is being monitored by NASA since 1830 and is still a matter of debate for researchers. Current data shows it has been shrinking slowly; in the 19th century, as well as when NASA Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft gathered images, the spot was more than 2 Earths wide. However, the recent measurements by Earth-based telescopes and Juno findings say that the storm's width has diminished by one-third while its height has reduced by one-eighth since the Voyager times.

On Monday, scientists said that Juno had discovered a new area of radiation just above the planet's atmosphere at the equator. Energetic hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur ions were found to be moving at light speed in this zone.

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"Juno's Microwave Radiometer has the unique capability to peer deep below Jupiter's clouds", Michael Janssen, Juno co-investigator from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a news release. The particles are believed to be derived from energetic neutral atoms (fast-moving ions with no electric charge) created in the gas around the Jupiter moons Io and Europa.

The spacecraft found another area of high-energy particles in Jupiter's inner radiation belt, where electrons move at almost the speed of light. Extremely high noise signatures were detected by Juno's Stellar Reference Unit (SRU-1) in the images collected by the team's radiation monitoring investigation as the craft passed through Jupiter's electron radiation belt.

Juno has been circling the planet that's made mostly of ammonia, methane, and water since it arrived in 2016 and makes an orbit about every 53 days.

The Juno probe has conducted eight scientific flybys over Jupiter, dipping its trajectory across the gas giant's upper atmosphere. Juno's ninth science pass will be on December 16. JPL researchers told NASA that this depth, along with the heat of the storm, explains some of the Great Red Spot's better known features, including it's out-of-this-world winds.

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