The secrets of the largest storm in the Solar System that is more than Earth and has been active for more than 150 years

The secrets of the largest storm in the Solar System that is more than Earth and has been active for more than 150 years

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Scientists are beginning to uncover the secrets of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, the largest storm in the Solar System.

This spectacular phenomenon is wider than Earth and has existed for more than 150 years.

One of the great mysteries of this storm has been the depth of its roots .

NASA’s Juno probe has now let us know that the storm extends at least 350 kilometers from the atmosphere to the interior of the planet.

Although its roots could be even deeper. The 350 kilometers are only the maximum distance that the meter (radiometer) of the Juno probe can detect.

This instrument tracks heat (hundreds of degrees Celsius) in the atmosphere associated with the storm.

If Juno made gravity measurements in the region too, it could detect mass movements related to the spot more than 1,000 kilometers below the planet’s clouds.

Recreation of Jupiter
Copyright of the NASA image
Image captionThe large size of Jupiter means, almost certainly, that it was the first object that formed in the Solar System after the Sun.

“Now we are building the 3D structure of the Great Red Spot, before we only knew it from a two-dimensional perspective,” said Professor Andrew Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

“We still will determine exactly how deep are the roots. But the heat perceived in the depth is consistent with the winds of the top of the atmosphere “, he said .

These winds move at more than 120 m / second or at 430 km / h. That speed is much higher than anything that is seen on Earth.


  • Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth and has 300 times more mass
  • It needs 12 Earth years to go around the Sun. The “days” last 10 hours.
  • Its composition resembles that of a star, since it consists mainly of hydrogen and helium
  • Under pressure, hydrogen assumes a state similar to that of a metal
  • This “metallic hydrogen” could be the source of the planet’s magnetic field
  • Most visible clouds contain ammonia and hydrogen sulfide
  • The “bands” present in the low latitudes of Jupiter harbor very strong winds that blow from east to west

Unsupported data

Professor Ingersoll gave a lecture at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest annual meeting of planetary scientists.

He said the team by Juno wanted to understand the key mechanisms that feed the storm and avoid that DISIP e .

But the data collected on the Red Spot is simply not compatible with the models used to study Earth’s climate.

“For practical reasons, the first efforts to understand the stain were based on computer models borrowed from earth sciences,” Ingersoll said.

But for this gigantic storm “we have to stretch the models much more”.

Jupiter.  Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / G.Eichstadt / J.Cowart.
Copyright image NASA / JPL-CALTECH / SWRI / MSSS / G.EICHSTADT / J.COWART
Image captionOne of the surprises of the mission has been the way in which citizen scientists have interpreted the images sent by Juno. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / G.Eichstadt / J.Cowart.

The team has produced an impressive display of the latest data.

It is a small video that takes the viewer in a flyby through the clouds of Jupiter before diving into the same spot.

The Juno probe reached the fifth planet in the Solar System on July 4, 2016. Since then, it has been passing near the gas giant every 53 days.

Your scientific instruments are trying to unravel the inner workings of Jupiter.

The mission hopes to better explain the origins of the planet.

Its large size means, almost certainly, that it was the first object that formed in the Solar System after the Sun. This means that its influence on everything that surrounds it has been immense.

It is impossible, says the mission team, to understand the other planets without first knowing Jupiter thoroughly.

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