Storms on Jupiter are much bigger than expected

Colorful and eventful, Jupiter’s atmosphere is very intriguing to scientists. Several studies published on October 28 reveal new elements on how it works.

Jupiter’s tumultuous atmosphere is very beautiful to watch, but it is also exciting to study. And to better understand what is happening there, the Juno probe is an instrument of choice. As NASA reveals, new discoveries in several areas of the planet, including its poles and its Great Red Spot were presented on October 28.

« These new observations of Juno give us a wealth of new information on the most mysterious aspects of Jupiter », Rejoices Lori Glaze, director of the planetary science division within NASA.

The planet Jupiter under three different wavelengths. // Source: International Gemini Observatory / NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / NASA / ESA

Storms higher than expected

The Juno probe relies in particular on its microwave radiometer to unravel the mysteries of Jupiter’s clouds and vortices. The data she collected allowed scientists to discover that the gas giant’s cyclones were hotter and had lower atmosphere density at the top, while they were cooler and with higher atmospheric densities at the bottom ( and it is the exact opposite at the level of the anticyclones).

These new studies also reveal that the storms on Jupiter are much larger than expected. ” Some extend for 100 kilometers below the upper cloud cover “, Underlines NASA. At the famous Grande Tache Rouge, they would even extend over 350 km. ” This surprising finding demonstrates that vortices extend beyond areas where water condenses and clouds form, and below the level where sunlight warms the atmosphere. », Explains the American space agency.

The Juno probe overflights also allowed scientists to more accurately assess the depth of the iconic Jupiterian high pressure below the cloud surface. And it turns out that the Great Red Spot is aptly named, it would measure no less than 500 km in height (above the ground). This region is not the only one to intrigue researchers. The light bands (called “zones”) and dark bands (called “belts”) located in the equatorial zone of the planet also arouse a lot of curiosity.

As NASA points out, band formation is linked to the presence of strong easterly and westerly winds going in opposite directions. Data collected by Juno’s microwave radiometer during its multiple passes reveals a possible clue to the formation of these jet streams: the ammonia contained in the atmosphere moves upwards in a remarkable alignment with these air currents. .

Polar cyclones are very resilient

« By tracking ammonia, we have discovered circulation cells in the northern and southern hemispheres that are similar to the ‘Ferrel cells’ that control our climate here on Earth. Says Keren Duer, lead author of the Jupiter Circulating Cell Study published in the journal Science. ” While Earth has only one Ferrel cell per hemisphere, Jupiter has eight that are at least 30 times larger.. »

Scientists have also looked at the polar cyclones of Jupiter. The Juno probe had already shown that these gigantic storms had polygonal shapes (eight in the shape of octagons in the North, and five in the shape of pentagons in the South). ” Using data from the Juno probe’s JIRAM image spectrometer tool, scientists have shown that these atmospheric phenomena are extremely resilient and stable. geographically “, Underlines the post from NASA.

Scientists were able to rely on the extensive data collected by the Juno probe during its 37 passages over the gas giant, and during which ” various sets of specialized instruments Scanned the atmosphere.

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Source: Numerama by

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