The Great Red Spot is much deeper than researchers thought, reaching 350 to 480 kilometers below Jupiter’s top clouds. On Jupiter, a storm raged for more than 300 years. Dubbed the Great Red Spot, this rotating high-pressure area, visible from space, spans more than 16,000 kilometers in Jupiter’s atmosphere, 1.25 times the diameter of Earth. According to two new studies published on October 28 in the journal Science, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot superstorm is also particularly deep, reaching as far as 480 km downwards, about 40 times larger than the Pacific Mariana Trench, an oceanic trench. deepest on Earth.
That depth was much greater than the researchers predicted, with the bottom of the storm surpassing even the atmospheric landmark, where water and ammonia condenses into clouds. The storm’s depth reveals a number of unknown processes that connect Jupiter’s interior structure to the atmosphere, fueling powerful meteorological phenomena on a much larger scale than previously predicted, according to Scott Bolton. , principal investigator on NASA’s Juno mission.
Both new studies rely on observations from the Juno probe. The spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016 and completed 36 passes near the 140,000 km wide gas giant. In the first study, the scientists examined the Great Red Spot with the probe’s microwave irradiometer, which detects microwaves emanating from the planet’s interior. Unlike radio and infrared radiation, microwaves can travel through Jupiter’s thick clouds. Through the study of microwave emission, the NASA team of experts determined that the Great Red Spot super typhoon reached a depth of about 350 km. The second study found that the superstorm may be even larger than the first study estimated. The study authors examined the Great Red Spot using the Juno’s gravity detector. Aggregated data from 12 flybys of the storm helped the team calculate where most of the mass was concentrated. They concluded the Great Red Spot has a maximum depth of about 480 km.
Even so, the Great Red Spot is much shallower than the massive winds that surround and power it. The depth of the outflow is 3,200 km below the clouds. Currently, the Great Red Spot is shrinking, with its width decreasing by a third since 1979, but researchers still cannot predict its future.