There are many mysteries surrounding Jupiter’s great red spot. But, NASA's Juno spacecraft is getting to the roots of famous Great Red Spot. Th recent research based on data collected during the mission's first pass over the iconic storm reveals that the read spot expands during the mission's first pass over the iconic storm. The Juno spacecraft also discovered during the mission's first pass over the iconic storm.
One of the most asked question about Giant Red spot on Jupiter is that how deep is it. The data from Juno indicates that the solar system's most famous storm is almost one-and-a-half Earths wide. It has roots that penetrate more than 200 miles into the planet’s atmosphere. Jupiter’s giant red spot hasn't been a model of consistency. The spot has been slowly shrinking. In 1979, the images collected by the NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 suggested that the spot stretched well over two piles of earth’ wide. But, the recent data suggest that the spot is now only one-third of the size measured by the voyager.
Juno arrived on Jupiter on 4th July 2016 after a successful 5-year flight. Since, its arrival the satellite has made eight science passes over the gas giant, with a ninth scheduled with 9th being on 16th December last year. The spacecraft made its first close flyby of the Great Red Spot in June 2017. Then, the satellite’s Microwave Radiometer probed the clouds surrounding the gigantic storm, measuring their depth in the atmosphere.
According to the data sent by Juno, the Great Red spot was more than 50 to 100 times deeper than earth’s ocean and warmer as the base than they are at the top. The winds flowing in that part are associated with differences in temperature, and the warmth of the spot's base explains the ferocious winds we see at the top of the atmosphere.
Juno not only estimated the depth of Giant red spot but also discovered two new radiation bands. The first one lies above the equator of the gas giant's atmosphere and includes hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur ions moving at a speed of the light. Juno was able to find the new radiations because it’s unique orbit around Jupiter which allows it to get really close to the cloud tops during science collection flybys, and we literally flew through it.
Another important fact which was revealed was that the charged particles are thought to come from fast-moving neutral atoms created in the gas around Jupiter's moons Europa and Io. Because of the particle interaction, their electrons are stripped away, giving them a charge.
Juno also detected second charged region around the planet's high latitudes which was never explored by any other spacecraft. But, the origin of this charged region still remains a mystery.
Fly into the Great Red Spot of Jupiter with NASA’s Juno Mission:
Video Source: NASA