Jupiter is famous for its Great Red Spot, and new research shows that this massive storm is far deeper than expected, perhaps even deeper than the deepest oceans on Earth.
The Source of the New Data on the Great Red Spot
The latest data comes from the Juno spacecraft, which passed over the phenomenon last July. Scientists analyzed this information and their findings were recently presented at the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is a massive storm that moves throughout the gas giant. At over 10,000 miles, it is large enough to swallow the Earth. It is also estimated to have been around for at least 150 years.
Scientists have been able to detect a great amount of atmospheric heat around it, averaging 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit in an area 350-600 miles above it. However, until recently, they were not sure if the Great Red Spot is a shallow storm near the outer reaches of Jupiter or if it went deeper.
Juno’s probe was able to measure microwave emissions, which are most prominent in hotter areas. It was able to detect this heat even going down as far as 200 miles, which is as far as its instruments were able to detect.
According to Andrew P. Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology, who works for the Juno team, that means that the Great Red Spot goes between 50 and 100 times farther down than the deepest oceans here on Earth.
“It’s definitely warmer than its surroundings at that great depth,” he said. “That is a new result. How deep it goes beyond that is still T.B.D.”
Scientists are hoping that Juno will be able to make at least one more pass over the storm. In doing so, it will look to build a gravity map of the mass moving far beneath its surface.
All in all, Juno has lead to the researchers’ rethinking a lot of their assumptions about Jupiter. As it is, scientists are still trying to build new paradigms to explain this massive storm on Jupiter.
Image Source: JPL/NASA