NASA's Juno probe unravels Jupiter's Great Red Spot roots
Dec 15 2017
Juno's Microwave Radiometer has successfully calculated the width as well as the depth of Jupiter's Great Red Spot which has been termed as the solar system's most renowned storm.
"One of the most basic questions about Jupiter'sGreat Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?" said Juno's principal investigator Dr. Scott Bolton, from the Southwest Research Institute.
The findings - presented Monday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans - suggest the famous Jovian storm has roots that penetrate some 200 miles into Jupiter's atmosphere.
Juno just wrapped up its eighth flyby of Jupiter which NASA calls "science passes", meaning that all of its instruments are up and running for observation.
A wind-movement model animates a mosaic image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot made from JunoCam images.
As of April 2017, the Great Red Spot measured around 10,000 miles (16,000 km) wide with a diameter of 1.3 times the diameter of Earth.
"The warmth of the spot's base explains the ferocious winds we see at the top of the atmosphere", said Andy Ingersoll, Juno co-investigator in a NASA statement.
Juno data also showed the spot is warmer at the base than at the top, which may be causing the winds within the storm, Space.com reported.
The scientists, however, debate about the future of the Red Spot as it had been found diminishing since its initial study by the Voyager missions. Furthermore, NASA says that the storm could have been active for 350 years. One of the clouds is The Great Red Spot, whose roots run deep, according to the Juno probe.
The Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector instrument (JEDI) found a new radiation zone which is quite close to the planet.
As if to hammer that point home the team also discovered something else pretty terrifying which is that Jupiter has an invisible band of radiation that's travelling close to the planet's surface at nearly light speed.
Juno's ninth pass around the giant planet will be on December 16, 2017. 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.
Juno also found signatures of a high-energy heavy ion population within the inner edges of Jupiter's relativistic electron radiation belt - a region dominated by electrons moving close to the speed of light.
The signatures are observed during Juno's high-latitude encounters with the electron belt, in regions never explored by prior spacecraft.
The Juno probe has conducted eight scientific flybys over Jupiter, dipping its trajectory across the gas giant's upper atmosphere. The origin of these particles, which were detected by Juno's Stellar Reference Unit star camera, remains a mystery.
Juno arrived at Jupiter back on 4 July 2016 after leaving Earth in 2011. Researchers at the AGU conference are discussing comparisons between Jupiter's and Earth's aurorae, measurements of the planet's gravitational field to understand its internal structure, and analysis of its magnetosphere. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California.