Jupiter’s Megastorm Spotted By Juno


Image courtesy Pixabay
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Jupiter, a planet that has been known for its size, which is 100 times larger than the Earth, has a Great Red Spot (GRS) indicating megastorm on the planet. The spot is more than 400 years old. Recently, new images of the red spot were released by Juno, a satellite monitoring the planet from its orbit. Juno has sent many images of the planet helping researchers understand the evolution of the galaxy and of Jupiter in particular. The red spot is not just a storm; it is a massive hot storm. This storm is swirling on the planet at a speed of 270 miles per hour. It is a huge hurricane and is believed to twice as the size of the Earth.

Jupiter has always been influential in the story of the solar system because of its size. Scientists and researchers think that understanding the evolution of Jupiter and other planets can help them learn how the Earth and our milky galaxy were formed. Do uncover the mysteries behind the solar system, researchers at NASA had sent many satellites, including Juno on Jupiter to record movements on the planet and send it back to Earth.

Movement and Temperature of the red spot:  

The gigantic storm rotates counterclockwise. Because of its size the storm imbalances the flow of air in the atmosphere generating lots of sound waves or compressions of air. Recently, Juno released the latest images of the red spot. The temperature at this particular spot is believed to be about 370 degrees Celsius or 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The planet, although situated a fair distance from the Sun, has the highest temperature. Researchers have not been able to gauge the cause behind it. But now it is believed that the high temperature of the red spot might be the cause behind the overall hot climate on the planet. Above the massive red spot, the temperature has been recorded at nearly 1,330 degree Celsius or 2,420 degrees Fahrenheit. Gravity waves on the planet and the high temperature under the spot together might have caused the planet hotter.

Location and Appearance of the GRS

The GRS is located north of Jupiter’s equator.  Juno photographed the GRS from a height of 285,100 miles from the planet. At that time, Juno was orbiting the planet for the third time.  The spot is a huge red hurricane, surrounded by layers of pale yellow, orange and white. The GRS had been swirling on the planet for past several years; however latest findings show that the size of the storm has reduced. Even at the reduced size, the storm is still big enough to house two Earth-sized planets.

Besides, the spot is more towards orange shade that red while the color of its core is intense and less distinct than what it used to be. The spot has an unusual wispy filament which rotates 10-hour span of the GRS. The movement of the filament is often distorted by winds blowing at 330 miles per hour.

Why Is the GRS Still There On Planet?

As stated before, the GRS has been seen on the planet for about 400 years. It is obvious for any of us to wonder why the spot is still there and why it didn’t disappear? 400 years is quite a lot for anything to exist. Waves and turbulence in and around is one of the several factors behind keeping the GRS alive. While, there are theories that suggest that the GRS drives energy by consuming small vortices.

Juno Orbiting the Planet:

Five years back, researchers sent a satellite named Juno to the orbit of Jupiter with the focus to closely study the planet and record any unusual changes.  Researchers have lots of hope from Juno as they eagerly wait for updates from it. Having received images of GRS, researchers are now waiting to get some insight on the production or creation of heat that is observed by the planet’s upper atmosphere. Besides, future studies are due to be conducted on less intense storms.

The Great Red Spot has been on the planet since the first day when it was viewed by a researcher from the Earth. It is not known as since when the spot has been alive. The size of the planet indicates that Jupiter is one of the oldest planets in the galaxy. The planet among others such as Mars has been one of the main subjects of research as their existence is believed to be connected, in some way, with the existence of the galaxy. There are many mysteries of the planet which are yet to be uncovered. One of such mysteries includes the GRS.

Image Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko
Image Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko