What does the Great Red Spot on Jupiter hide? Scientists believe it could be something they’ve been looking for a long time: water.
NASA’s information on Jupiter is that the largest planet in the solar system was probably the first space body to be created from the sun’s leftovers. This is why researchers thought it had a similar composition to the sun. But the studies from the last decades show a different side of Jupiter.
Gordon Bjoraker, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Maryland), wrote his findings on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, where he saw hints of water:
“The moons that orbit Jupiter are mostly water ice, so the whole neighborhood has plenty of water. Why wouldn’t the planet — which is this huge gravity well, where everything falls into it — be water rich, too?”
Using high technology instruments from the telescopes on the Mauna Kea summit in Hawaii and the “most sensitive infrared telescope on Earth” at the Keck Observatory, Bjoraker and his colleagues gathered radiation data on Jupiter.
The team also used data from Juno spacecraft that went deep into the planet’s clouds and orbits it once every 53 days.
Researchers saw that the depths of the Great Red Spot leaked thermal radiation. Above that region, the clouds held chemical signatures of water. Theoretical and computer-generated models support the findings gathered with ground-based instruments and Juno’s data.
The conclusion was: Jupiter is “abundant” in water. However, the team admitted that they would have to continue their research and find if there’s water in other regions than the Great Red Spot.
How Much Water is On Jupiter?
Steven Levin is a Juno project scientist at NASA’s JPL, stating in an interview that:
“Jupiter’s water abundance will tell us a lot about how the giant planet formed, but only if we can figure out how much water there is in the entire planet.”
Juno will have to continue its observations and confirm that Jupiter has water. It will then map the planet in detail and use the information to determine if other gas giant planets could have water:
“If it works, then maybe we can apply it elsewhere, like Saturn, Uranus or Neptune, where we don’t have a Juno,” concluded Amy Simon, a planetary atmospheres expert at NASA Goddard.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.