Today, there is an article on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) website , announcing that scientists for the first time, have detailed weather maps of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, enabling them to make conclusions that temperature, winds, pressure, and composition is responsible for its color.
Here are a few excerpts from the article:
“Scientists Get First Look at Weather Inside the Solar System’s Biggest Storm”
16 March 2010
“This is our first detailed look inside the biggest storm of the Solar System,” says Glenn Orton, who led the team of astronomers that made the study. “We once thought the Great Red Spot was a plain old oval without much structure, but these new results show that it is, in fact, extremely complicated.”
“The observations reveal that the reddest colour of the Great Red Spot corresponds to a warm core within the otherwise cold storm system, and images show dark lanes at the edge of the storm where gases are descending into the deeper regions of the planet. The observations, detailed in a paper appearing in the journal Icarus, give scientists a sense of the circulation patterns within the solar system’s best-known storm system.”
“One of the most intriguing findings shows the most intense orange-red central part of the spot is about 3 to 4 degrees warmer than the environment around it,” says lead author Leigh Fletcher. This temperature difference might not seem like a lot, but it is enough to allow the storm circulation, usually counter-clockwise, to shift to a weak clockwise circulation in the very middle of the storm. Not only that, but on other parts of Jupiter, the temperature change is enough to alter wind velocities and affect cloud patterns in the belts and zones.
“This is the first time we can say that there’s an intimate link between environmental conditions — temperature, winds, pressure and composition — and the actual colour of the Great Red Spot,” says Fletcher. “Although we can speculate, we still don’t know for sure which chemicals or processes are causing that deep red colour, but we do know now that it is related to changes in the environmental conditions right in the heart of the storm.”
Jupiter has always fascinated me and this story only enthralls me even more about new discoveries on the horizon for this Jovian planet.
Now this team of scientists speculate that at the heart of the Great Red Spot, because of conditions that sound a lot like how we would describe a
hurricane, is responsible for its ‘colour’.
Leigh Fletcher says that the most intriguing thing about the spot is the orange-red center being 3 to 4 degrees warmer than the res of the spot.
I fail to see how thats intriguing. It would stand to reason that as pressure and wind speed surround its center, that those factors would cause
friction on the mass of the spot, because of its composition and elements contained in it. But hey, If he wants to call it intriguing, so be it.
Great story, and can’t wait to here more about this ‘new’ discovery.
Maybe if they can work out the complexities of weather on Jupiter, maybe they will apply those same discoveries to our own planet and solve or
climate issues once and for all.