The Great Red Spot of Jupiter – the most famous storm in the solar system – is almost one and a half Earth wide and penetrates some 300 kilometers into the planet's atmosphere, according to data collected by NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Other revelations "One of the most basic questions about the Great Red Spot of Jupiter is: how deep are the roots?" Said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator at NASA. Southwest Research Institute in the United States
"Juno's data indicate that the most famous storm in the solar system is almost one and a half Earth wide, and has roots that penetrate about 300 kilometers into the planet's atmosphere," Bolton said. . 1
"The Juno microwave radiometer has the unique ability to look deep into the background of Jupiter's clouds," said Michael Janssen, Juno co-investigator of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"It's proving to be an excellent tool to help us get to the bottom of what makes the Great Red Spot so great," Janssen said.
The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is a giant oval of crimson clouds in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter that runs counterclockwise around the perimeter of the oval with wind speeds greater than any storm on Earth.
Measures 16,000 kilometers wide as of April 3 this year, the Great Red Spot is 1.3 times wider than Earth.
"Juno discovered that the roots of the Great Red Spot are 50 to 100 times deeper than Earth's oceans and warmer at the base than at the top," said Andy Ingersoll, a Caltech professor and co-author. Juno researcher.
"The winds are associated with differences in temperature and the warmth of the base of the place explains the fierce winds we see in the upper part of the atmosphere." Ingersoll said.
The future of the Great Red Spot is still in debate. Although the storm has been monitored since 1830, it may have existed for more than 350 years.
In the 19th century, the Great Red Spot was more than two Earths wide. However, in modern times, the Great Red Spot seems to be decreasing in size, as measured by telescopes and spacecraft, NASA said.
At that time, Voyagers 1 and 2 of NASA accelerated by Jupiter on their way to Saturn and beyond, in 1979, the Great Red Spot was twice the diameter of Earth.
Today, measurements made by Earth-based telescopes indicate that the oval over which Juno flew has decreased by one third and the height by one eighth since Voyager times.
Juno has also detected a new radiation zone, just above the atmosphere of the gas giant, near the equator. The zone includes energetic hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur ions that move at an almost light speed.
"The closer you get to Jupiter, the stranger you get," said Heidi Becker, Juno radiation monitoring researcher at JPL.
"We knew that radiation would probably surprise us, but we did not think we would find a new radiation zone near the planet," Becker said.
The new zone was identified by the investigation of the Jupiter Energy Particle Detection Instrument (JEDI).