The big red spot of Jupiter – "Reveals a water planet"



Posted on March 22, 2019

Jupiter Great Red Spot

As storms progress, Jupiter's colossal Great Red Spot, 16,000 kilometers long and 350 years old, is the heavy weight of the solar system. According to NASA, it could engulf the entire Earth and still have room for Mars. A critical question has been worrying astronomers for generations, to which the swirling mystery of this iconic storm may have answered: is there deep water in the atmosphere of Jupiter, and to what extent?

"Giant planets are not mere hydrogen and helium pellets," said Ravit Helled, a global scientist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

A striking view of Jupiter's big red stain and the turbulent southern hemisphere presented above was captured by NASA's Juno satellite as it made a tight pass from the gas giant.

Juno took the three images used to produce this optimized color view on February 12, 2019 between 9:59 am Pacific Standard Time (12:59 pm Eastern) and 10:39 pm. PST (1:39 pm EST), as the spacecraft made its 17th scientific Jupiter pass. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was between 26,900 km (59,700 km) and 95,400 km (59,400 km) above the Jupiter Cloud Summit, above a south latitude varying between about 40 and 74 degrees.

https://dailygalaxy.com/2019/03/jupiter-like-exoplanets-may-foster-the-existence-of-advanced-life/net

Astrophysicist Gordon L. Bjoraker's reported in a recent article in the Astronomical Journal that he and his team have brought the Jovian community of researchers closer to the response of Jupiter's water.

Juno Cam Big Red Spot

Looking from ground-based telescopes at sensible wavelengths of thermal radiation escaping from the depths of the large red patch (Juno cam image above), they detected the chemical signatures of the water above the deepest clouds on the planet. The researchers concluded that the pressure of water, combined with the measurement of another gas containing oxygen, carbon monoxide, implies that Jupiter has 2 to 9 times more water than the other. oxygen as the sun. This finding supports the theoretical and computer simulation models that predicted abundant water (H2O) on Jupiter made of oxygen (O) bound to molecular hydrogen (H2).

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The big red spot is the dark spot in the middle of this infrared image below. It is dark because of the thick clouds that block the heat radiation. The yellow band indicates the part of the large red spot used in the Bjoraker analysis.

Thermal image of Jupiter

The revelation was thrilling as the team's experience could have easily failed. The large red spot is full of dense clouds, which prevents electromagnetic energy from escaping and teaches astronomers anything about the chemistry it contains.

"It turns out that they are not so thick that they keep us from seeing in depth," Bjoraker said. "It was a good surprise."

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The new spectroscopic technology and sheer curiosity gave the team a push to peer inside Jupiter, which radiates an atmosphere thousands of miles deep, said Bjoraker: "We thought, well, let's see what happens. "

The data collected by Bjoraker and his team will complement information gathered by NASA's Juno spacecraft, circling the planet from north to south once every 53 days.

Among other things, Juno is looking for water with its own infrared spectrometer and microwave radiometer capable of sounding deeper than anyone has ever seen – up to 100 bar, 100 times the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the earth. (The altitude on Jupiter is measured in bars, which represent the atmospheric pressure, because the planet has no surface, like the Earth, to measure the altitude.)

If Juno made similar water results, reinforcing Bjoraker's ground technique, it could open a new window to solve the water problem, said Goddard's Amy Simon, an expert on planetary atmospheres.

"If it works, we may be able to apply it elsewhere, such as Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune, where we do not have Juno," she said.

Juno is the last spacecraft to find water, probably in gaseous form, on this giant gas planet.

Water is an important and abundant molecule in our solar system. It has spawned life on Earth and now lubricates many of its most essential processes, including weather conditions. It is also a crucial factor in Jupiter's restless climate and in determining whether the planet has a core of rock and ice.

Jupiter is thought to be the first planet to have formed by siphoning off the elements left by the formation of the Sun as our star fused from an amorphous nebula to the hot gas ball we see today.

A theory widely accepted decades ago was that Jupiter was identical to the Sun in its composition; a hydrogen ball with a hint of helium – all gas, no nucleus.

But more and more evidence shows that Jupiter has a nucleus, maybe 10 times bigger than the Earth. Spacecraft that have previously visited the planet have uncovered chemical evidence indicating that they constituted a core of rock and ice water before mixing with the gases of the solar nebula to create its atmosphere. Juno's way in how Juno's gravity also supports this theory. There are even lightning and thunder on the planet, phenomena fueled by moisture.

The issue of water has puzzled planetary scientists; almost every time H2O's proof materializes, something happens to dissuade them from feeling. The preferred example of Jupiter's experts is NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which launched a probe into the atmosphere in 1995 that ended up in an exceptionally dry region. "It's like sending a probe to Earth, landing in the Mojave Desert and concluding that the Earth is dry," Bjoraker said.

In their search for water, Bjoraker and his team used the radiation data collected at the Maunakea Summit in Hawaii in 2017. They relied on the world's most sensitive infrared telescope, the WM. Keck Observatory, as well as a new instrument capable of detecting a wider range of gases at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.

The idea was to analyze the light energy emitted through the clouds of Jupiter to identify the altitudes of its cloud layers. This would help scientists determine the temperature and other conditions that affect the types of gases that can survive in these areas.

Global atmosphere experts expect three cloud layers on Jupiter: a bottom layer of water ice and liquid water, an intermediate layer of ammonia and sulfur, and an upper layer of ammonia.

To confirm this with ground observations, Bjoraker's team focused on infrared wavelengths where most gases do not absorb heat, allowing chemical signatures to leak. Specifically, they analyzed patterns of absorption of a form of methane. Since Jupiter is too hot for methane to freeze, its abundance should not change from one place to another on the planet.

"If you see that the strength of the methane lines varies from the inside to the outside of the big red spot, it's not because there's more methane here." said Bjoraker, "it's because there are thicker and deeper clouds that block radiation in the big red spot, a storm over 300 km deep larger than the Earth. "

Measuring a width of 16,159 kilometers (as of April 3, 2017), the large red spot of Jupiter is 1.3 times wider than the Earth. The storm has been under surveillance since 1830 and may have existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the big red spot seemed to diminish.

The big red spot is a big puzzle, "said Scott Bolton, senior scientist at the Juno Mission at the Southwest Research Institute in Texas. "Some scientists think that for a storm to last as long, it must have very deep roots. Perhaps the source of energy that creates this storm comes from the depths of the planet.

"Of course, so far, we have had the opportunity to examine only the upper part of Jupiter. We have just seen this thin veneer, which is beautiful – it has these beautiful areas and belts, and this great storm on it, and a series of cyclones – but the key is what is below. "

"Nobody knows exactly what kind of features we will see inside, what are the clouds colors and whirlpools," said Bolton. "Maybe we'll see something that looks like three dimensions, like an incoming tunnel – nothing would surprise me at this point. It's going to be amazing, "said," We're just scratching the top of the atmosphere. "

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Bjoraker's team found evidence of the three cloudy layers of the large red patch, corroborating the previous models. The team concluded that the deepest cloud layer is at 5 bar, where the temperature reaches the freezing point of water, Bjoraker said. "That's why I probably found a cloud of water." The amount of carbon monoxide that the researchers have identified on Jupiter confirms that Jupiter is rich in oxygen and therefore in water.

"The moons that orbit around Jupiter are mainly ice-water, so the whole neighborhood has a lot of water," said Gordon L. Bjoraker, astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. . "Why would the planet – which is this huge gravity, where everything falls – be so rich in water?"

"The abundance of Jupiter water will tell us a lot about the formation of the giant planet, but only if we can determine the amount of water available on the planet," said Steven M. Levin, scientist Juno Project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, California

For centuries, scientists have worked to understand the composition of Jupiter. This is not surprising: this mysterious planet is by far, and chemically, the closest relative of the Sun, the largest of our solar system. Understanding Jupiter is a key to learning about the formation of our solar system and even the development of other solar systems.

By observing ground-based telescopes at sensible wavelengths from the depths of Jupiter's persistent storm, the large red patch, they detected the chemical signatures of the water over the deepest clouds. of the planet. The researchers concluded that the pressure of water, combined with the measurement of another gas containing oxygen, carbon monoxide, implies that Jupiter has 2 to 9 times more water than the other. oxygen as the sun.

This finding supports theoretical models of computer simulation that predicted abundant water (H2O) on Jupiter made of oxygen (O) bound to molecular hydrogen (H2).

The new spectroscopic technology and sheer curiosity gave the team a push to peer inside Jupiter, which radiates an atmosphere thousands of miles deep, said Bjoraker: "We thought, well, let's see what happens. "

The data collected by Bjoraker and his team will complement information gathered by NASA's Juno spacecraft, circling the planet from north to south once every 53 days.

Among other things, Juno is looking for water with its own infrared spectrometer and microwave radiometer capable of sounding deeper than anyone has ever seen – up to 100 bar, 100 times the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the earth. (The altitude on Jupiter is measured in bars, which represent the atmospheric pressure, because the planet has no surface, like the Earth, to measure the altitude.)

If Juno made similar water results, reinforcing Bjoraker's ground technique, it could open a new window to solve the water problem, said Goddard's Amy Simon, an expert on planetary atmospheres. "If it works, we may be able to apply it elsewhere, such as Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune, where we do not have Juno," she said.

The Bjoraker technique must now be tested on other parts of Jupiter to get a complete picture of the global water supply, and its data is consistent with Juno's results.

The Daily Galaxy via JPL and NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center and Lonnie Shekhtman


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