Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has revealed Jupiter’s Great Red Spot to be one-and-a-half Earths wide and 300 km deep into the planet’s atmosphere. It was Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) that made these revelations.
It was also discovered that Jupiter has two previously uncharted radiation zones, said the researchers, which include energetic hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur ions moving at almost light speed. The new zones were identified by the Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI) investigation.
“Juno data indicate that the solar system’s most famous storm is almost one-and-a-half Earths wide, and has roots that penetrate about 300 kilometres into the planet’s atmosphere,” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in the U.S.
As of April 3, 2017, The Great Red Spot measured 16,000 km in width and was 1.3 times as wide as our planet.
Andy Ingersoll, a Juno co-investigator said that the Great Red Spot’s roots are 50 to 100 times deeper than Earth’s oceans. They are also warmer at the base than they are at the top. This explains the ferocious winds scientists see at the top of Jupiter’s atmosphere – a storm that has existed for over 350 years but has been monitored only since 1830.
Nasa also said that in the 19th century, the Great Red Spot was beyond two Earths wide. Over time, however, it seems to have reduced in size, as measured by Earth-based telescopes and spacecraft.