An Israeli-American study reveals the surprising depth of Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot’ storm

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a storm so large it could swallow Earth, extends surprisingly deep beneath the planet’s clouds, scientists from Israel and the United States reported Thursday.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has discovered that the monstrous storm, although it is thinning, still has a depth of between 200 miles (350 kilometers) and 300 miles (500 kilometers). When combined with its 10,000-mile (16,000-kilometer) width, the Great Red Spot resembles a fat pancake in new 3D images of the planet.

The mission’s chief scientist, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute, said there might not be a strict limit on the bottom of the storm.

“It will probably gradually fade and keep going down,” Bolton told a news conference.

The study, completed in collaboration with researchers from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, was published Thursday in the journal. Sciences.

“Since Juno came to orbit Jupiter, we have been working as archaeologists, only instead of digging underground, we have been exploring what goes on under the clouds,” said Eli Galanti, a Weizmann scientist who participated in the investigation.

The Great Red Spot is probably the tallest Jovian storm ever measured with Juno’s microwave and gravity mapping instruments, Bolton said. Thousands of storms hit the gas giant at any given moment: beautiful and colorful eddies, columns and filaments that cover the entire planet, as seen by the spacecraft camera.

Launched in 2011, Juno has been orbiting the largest planet in the solar system since 2016. NASA recently extended the mission for another four years, until 2025.

Still ahead for Juno: measure the depth of polar cyclones, which could penetrate even further under the clouds.

“I would not want to be too quick to guess that we have seen the deepest,” Bolton told reporters. “But the Great Red Spot is the biggest and that makes it special on its own, and hopefully it will go deeper just for that.”

In contrast, some of the surrounding jet streams extend approximately 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) toward Jupiter.

“The Giant Red Spot was discovered more than two centuries ago, but until now we only knew what it looks like from the outside,” Galanti said in a press release issued by the Weizmann Institute. “Now, for the first time, we have revealed its structure and determined its depth.”

“To get an idea of ​​its dimensions, if a storm of the same size started on the Earth’s surface, it would spread to the International Space Station,” said NASA researcher Marzia Parisi Parisi.

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