Jupiter’s Monster Storm Is 150-Years Old And 200-Miles Deep

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, hides many secrets. Some of its secrets have finally been revealed thanks to the data sent back from the Juno spacecraft. Scientists conducted new research, which reveals more about the red spot located on the planet, which turns out to be Jupiter’s monster storm which has been raging at least since the first time it was observed in 1830. Furthermore, NASA says that the storm could have been active for 350 years.

Jupiter's Monster Storm
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

The Juno spacecraft gathered data regarding the Red Spot on Jupiter for the first time in July as it passed directly over it. NASA revealed the data of the probe on Monday at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans, La. According to the data from the Juno spacecraft, Jupiter’s monster storm moves far deeper below the clouds than researchers previously thought.

NASA’s animated video of the Red Spot shows the upper atmosphere of the massive Red Spot and goes down into the depths. It was made from images from the JunoCam imager on the Juno spacecraft, followed by some computer-generated animations.

When the Juno probe launched in 2011, the main question that researchers were looking to answer was how deep are the Giant Red Spot’s roots, and now this question has been partially answered. The Microwave Radiometer (MWR) on the spacecraft was used by the researchers to look into the spot. It revealed roots that go down 200 miles into its atmosphere. From the computer models, scientists tried to understand the storm, and found that it is about 1.3 times as wide as Earth.

Thanks to the data regarding the depth of the storm, scientists know that no storm on Earth has winds as fast as the Great Red Spot, and that, as the MWR has revealed as much as it can,  there is a possibility that the storm could be even deeper than the data reveals.

The Juno probe orbited the planet, which is made mainly of ammonia, methane, and water. The spacecraft arrived in 2016 and orbits the planet every 53 days. The scientists are not sure what makes the Giant Red Spot such a strong red color, because finding out which chemical reactions make the spot red is difficult, researchers said at Monday’s meeting.

The spacecraft gathered new information about the radiation around the gas giant. The Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector instrument (JEDI) found a new radiation zone which is quite close to the planet. The zone is located above the atmosphere on the equator area of the planet and has a lot of energetic hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur ions that move extremely fast, according to NASA.

The Juno spacecraft should complete 12 orbits of Jupiter in total, and its ninth orbit is scheduled for Dec. 16. Similar to the Cassini probe, which plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere earlier this year, the same is to happen with the Juno spacecraft.

The animated video describing Jupiter’s monster storm can be seen below.