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Israeli scientists discover depth of Jupiter's strong winds
10 March 2018, 01:09 | Myrtle Vega
Juno Peers Deep into Jupiter's Abyss to Reveal Weird Winds
But the spacecraft is carrying a host of scientific instruments that are gathering precious data about Jupiter, trying to solve some of its longstanding mysteries. These clouds and winds are thought to be as old as the planet itself, but until now we haven't been able to tell what exactly lies beneath these bands that have obscured our vision of the surface for so long.
For the a year ago and a half, reports The Atlantic via Nature, the NASA spacecraft Juno has been circling Jupiter and collecting reams of data.
"The more profound the planes, the more mass they contain, prompting a more grounded flag communicated in the gravity field". During this time, they built mathematical tools to analyze the gravitational field data; these are what would enable the researchers to get a grasp on Jupiter's atmosphere.
The great red spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm which has been observed from earth for over 200 years. As these jets flow in bands from east to west or west to east, they disrupt the even distribution of mass on the planet. Since then it's been orbiting the planet, taking pictures and measuring the planet's profile in infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, gravity and magnetism-and answering questions scientists have had about Jupiter for decades.
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The team looked for anomalies - measurements that show the planet deviating from a flawless sphere. But until these latest results we didn't know much about how far those winds reached below the uppermost surface of the planet's atmosphere. The robust magnetic field that surrounds Jupiter, for example, is about twice as strong as models had predicted. It revealed the asymmetrical flow in the north and south hemispheres, a signature of the planet's atmospheric and interior flows. When the results from Juno arrived, the measurement revealed large differences in the gravity field between north and south. "We have never seen an atmosphere so massive, but it is possible that Saturn may also have deep jets and a deep atmosphere", says Kaspi.
Based on the asymmetry in the gravitational fields between north to south, the researchers determined that the wind belts - these stripes observed by Galileo - extend 3,000 km. deep. In addition to determining the depth, Kaspi and Galanti also developed a method to determine precisely how those flows change with depth. In comparison, the Earth's atmosphere is less than one millionth of our planet's mass. These bands rotate at speeds that differ by up to 100 meters per second. Using these results, the third paper, led by Prof.
"This is really an wonderful result, and future measurements by Juno will help us understand how the transition works between the weather layer and the rigid body below", said Juno co-investigator Dr. Tristan Guillot, a researcher at the Université Côte d'Azur in France.
Deeper than that, Guillot and his coauthors found that below the massive cloud level, Jupiter's deep interior is made up of a fluid mixture of hydrogen and helium, rotating as a solid body. Obviously, this dwarfs anything we'd ever see here on Earth, and puts storm systems on every other planet in our Solar System to shame.
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