Like a slightly oblong pie, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is an oval spot on the largest planet in the solar system. As the largest storm against Jupiter—that is, in which air is pushed through the center to the surface, as part of a larger high-pressure system—it is certainly the largest storm in our solar system, as well as the most visible feature of the massive gas giant. As NASA’s Juno mission chief investigator told reporters Thursday, scientists thought it was kind of flat — you know, like pie.
But according to new studies, Jupiter’s oval red spot actually looks like a huge layer covered with a lid and syrup. In other words, it’s not just 1.25 Earth wide – it’s deep.
Scott Bolton, who is also director of the Department of Aerospace Science and Engineering at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, explained in a press conference. Bolton pointed few new studies This, although recently published in Science, is based on data more than two years old. When NASA’s Juno spacecraft (which entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016) flew over the Great Red Spot in February and July 2019, it did so to see just how deep this 10,000-mile-wide vortex below the cloud tops we can see.
They learned, among other things, that the Great Red Spot is about 40 times deeper than the Mariana Trench, the deepest place in Earth’s ocean. In fact, for the first study, scientists believe it could be more than 120 miles deep. In the second study, the researchers predicted that it could reach a maximum depth of more than 300 miles.
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The main implication here is that Jupiter’s inner and deep atmosphere may be connected by processes that are not yet understood. If so, this suggests that Jupiter – which is 11 times larger than Earth – may be home to meteorological events on a larger scale than scientists previously expected. In both estimates, the Great Red Spot extends well beyond the region of Jupiter’s atmosphere, where scientists believe water and ammonia have condensed into clouds.
Marzia Barizzi, research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California: “The Great Red Spot is as deep as the International Space Station is as deep as the International Space Station above our heads.” correspondents. However, the Great Red Spot is still less deep than the giant wind tires that power it, with those regions extending to depths of more than 1,800 miles.
In addition to discovering more about the Great Red Spot, the Juno mission also found that Jupiter has five cyclonic storms in the South Pole and eight in the North Pole. Accordingly, the latter has the shape of a pentagon, and the former has the shape of an octagon. Juno also observed the 16 wind circulation patterns in Jupiter’s atmosphere that work in the same way Ferrell cells on Earth (There are only two.) While Ferrell’s terrestrial cells extend 6 miles from the surface, Jupiter begins at the level of its clouds and extends at least 200 miles down.
The Great Red Spot has been a magnet for humans for nearly two centuries, as it was first observed in 1831. Since then, astronomers have noticed that this attractive feature has been changing in size, apparently in recent years. shrink. Although it was twice the diameter of Earth in 1979, it shrunk by about a third over the next 42 years. Despite being part of the gas giant, the Great Red Spot may eventually shrink until it disappears. At the moment it still contains many mysteries.
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