A wind-motion model motivates a mosaic image of Jupiter is the Great Red Spot made of JunoCam images.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)
NASA’s Juno spacecraft to the roots of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. New research, gathered during the mission the first time about the iconic storm, shows that it extends far below the surface of the planet. The spacecraft also discovered two new-found radiation zones.
“One of the most fundamental questions about Jupiter is the Great Red Spot is, how deep are the roots?” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement. Bolton and his team presented Juno’s results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans yesterday (Dec. 11).
“Juno data indicate that the solar system’s most famous storm is almost one-and-a-half times the Earth wide, and has roots that are over 200 miles [300 km] in the atmosphere of the planet,” Bolton said. [Jupiter is the Great Red Spot: An Iconic Monster Storm in Photos]
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A slowly shrinking storm
Despite the fact that it is a long life, Jupiter is the Great Red Spot is not a model of consistency. While the mass function has been on Jupiter for at least 200 years — possibly 350, as the start of telescope observations describe the same storm — it slowly became smaller. During the 19th century, and again when NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flew by on its way to Saturn in 1979, the place is stretched more than two Earths wide. But the Earth on the basis of measurements today put the spotlight on just a third the size measured by the Voyager probes.
Juno will arrive at Jupiter on 4 July 2016, after nearly five years on the run. Since then, the spacecraft has made, the science is about the gas giant, with a ninth scheduled for this Saturday (Dec. 16). In July 2017, it made its first close flyby of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft’s Microwave Radiometer in the extent to which the clouds around the massive storm, measuring the depth in the atmosphere.
“Juno thought that the Great Red Spot’s roots go 50 to 100 times deeper than earth’s oceans, and warmer at the base than at the top,” said Andy Ingersoll, professor of planetary science at Caltech and a Juno co-investigator. “Winds are the result of differences in temperature and the heat of the place of the basis explains the ferocious wind we see at the top of the atmosphere.”
Juno also discovered two new radiation bands. Located just above the equator of the gas giant’s atmosphere, and with hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur ions moving near the speed of light. [Great Red Spot, Spotted! Citizens to Create Incredible Images of Jupiter Storm]
“We knew that the radiation would probably surprise us, but we had not thought we would find a new radiation zone close to the planet,” said Heidi Becker, Juno’s radiation monitoring research lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We found it because Juno’s unique orbit around Jupiter can be really close to the cloud tops during science collection is near, and we literally flew through it.”
Identified by the spacecraft’s Jupiter Energetic icle Detector Instrument, the charged particles are assumed to originate from fast-moving neutral atoms created in the gas around Jupiter’s moons Europa and Io, NASA officials said in the statement. If the particles interact with Jupiter’s atmosphere, their electrons are removed, giving them a negative charge.
Juno also found a second charged region around the planet’s high latitudes, in realms never before explored by a spacecraft. The origin of these particles, which were discovered by Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit star camera, remains a mystery.
“The closer you are to Jupiter, the weirder it becomes,” Becker said.
Originally published on Space.com.