Washington: Learning more about Jupiter and its Great Red Spot could help scientists understand the Earth’s weather system better, says a NASA expert.
Jupiter’s weather functions under the same physics as Earth just millions of miles farther from the sun.
Jupiter studies will also improve our understandings of worlds beyond our solar system.
“Looking at as many possible different cases in our own solar system could enable us to then apply that knowledge to extrasolar planets,” explained Amy Simon, expert in planetary atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
With tumultuous winds peaking at about 400 miles per hour, the Great Red Spot has been swirling wildly over Jupiter’s skies for the past 150 years? Maybe even much longer than that.
Understanding the Great Red Spot is not easy and it is mostly Jupiter’s fault.
A planet a thousand times as big as Earth, Jupiter consists mostly of gas.
A liquid ocean of hydrogen surrounds its core, and the atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and helium.
That translates into no solid ground like we have on the Earth to weaken storms.
Studies predict Jupiter’s upper atmosphere has clouds consisting of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water.
Still, scientists do not know exactly how or even whether these chemicals react to give colours like those in the Great Red Spot.
Also, these compounds make up only a small part of the atmosphere.
“We are talking about something that only makes up a really tiny portion of the atmosphere. That is what makes it so hard to figure out exactly what makes the colours that we see,” Simon added in a statement.
Solving the Great Red Spot’s mystery will take more experiments combining chemicals under the right temperatures, light exposures and radiation doses.
“What we are trying to do is design lab experiments more realistic to Jupiter’s atmosphere,” Simon said.
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