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Jupiter's Great Red Spot Deeper Than Previously Thought

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Deeper Than Previously Thought
Jupiter's Great Red Spot as seen from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt)

By    |   Wednesday, 13 December 2017 06:01 PM

NASA studies of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot show the spot is deeper than originally thought: It's at least 200 miles deep into the atmosphere of the giant planet, and about one-and-a-half Earths wide. 

The data from the Juno spacecraft was gathered as it passed over the spot for the first time in July, and also showed two radiation zones that had not been identified before, Space.com reported.

Scientists presented the results of their research at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans on Monday. The team could not say for sure how deep the spot might go, only that it is far deeper than originally thought and is at least 200 miles.

“We just know enough to know we were wrong,” Southwest Research Institute scientist and principal investigator of the mission Scott Bolton said, The New York Times reported.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot has been observed for at least 200 and possibly as many as 350 years, if early telescopes were observing the same storm, Space.com reported. Current data shows it has been shrinking slowly; in the 19th century, as well as when NASA Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft gathered images, the spot was more than 2 Earths wide. It is now only one-third of its previous size. 

Juno data also showed the spot is warmer at the base than at the top, which may be causing the winds within the storm, Space.com reported.

The radiation bands are above the equator and around the planet’s high latitudes, where spacecraft had not previously explored. Scientists are still determining possible reasons for the radiation, but think it might come from fast-moving neutral atoms that the gas around moons Europa and Io create.  

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Jupiter's Great Red Spot is deeper than originally thought: at least 200 miles into the atmosphere of the giant planet, and about one-and-a-half Earths wide, NASA studies show.
jupiter, great red spot, deeper
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2017-01-13
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 06:01 PM
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