Earlier this week, NASA's spacecraftThe Juno climbed 9,000 kilometers directly above the famous Great Red Spot of the gas giant Jupiter and took some stunning detailed photographs of the largest atmospheric storm in the solar system. These photos were awaited by many astronomy lovers. Indeed, despite the fact that this super-hurricane has been going on on the planet for more than a century, a lot about its nature remains a mystery to us.
“For generations, people from all over the worldadmired the great red spot of Jupiter - perhaps its most famous feature, ”comments Scott Bolton of the Southwestern Research Institute (Texas, USA), a member of the Juno space program.
“And now, finally, we have the opportunity to take a close look at how this phenomenon looks.”
First signs of having this giant"Marks" on the body of Jupiter were discovered by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1665. However, it was only possible to make out the spot more clearly after 1830. It is possible that for several centuries since the first mention, the spot was dimmer, perhaps there was some other reason. But in the end, it has been continuously monitored for 187 years.
The hurricane is really amazing. It reaches 50,000 kilometers in length and 13,000 in width. This anticyclone can easily swallow the entire Earth. Moreover, the maximum wind speed inside the hurricane, according to scientists, can reach 645 kilometers per hour.
The characteristic orange-rust shade of the stormis just one of those interesting puzzles that researchers hope to solve. The upper layer of the atmosphere of Jupiter consists mainly of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfite and water, but it is not entirely clear how these compounds lead to the fact that the spot acquires its red and orange tints.
It also remains a mystery how thisthe storm maintains its strength. For example, with the contrast on the Earth of a liquid, a solid surface, the atmosphere and their interaction, storms can last only a few days or, in the worst case, weeks. And here, recall, we are talking about centuries.
In 2016, astronomers noted sometemperature difference in the general background of the planet and the Great Red Spot. The atmosphere above the spot turned out to be warmer than the surrounding clouds. It is possible that this observation in the future will help explain why the temperature in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter is comparable to the Earth, despite the fact that Jupiter is much further from the Sun.
At the moment, it has been suggested thatAcoustic and sound waves excited by a storm collide with gases in the atmosphere, causing heat to radiate through the clouds above the planet. However, before scientists can more accurately answer the many completely unclear questions about the Big Spot, most likely, more than just a few detailed images of it will be needed. Therefore, the Juno spacecraft will continue to collect data on this phenomenon, as well as processes occurring in the upper layers of the atmosphere of the gas giant.
“Now we have the best shots of this storm. It will take time to analyze all the data obtained not only from the Juno camera, but also from eight scientific instruments of the spacecraft. Maybe then we can figure out the past and present of this Great Red Spot, ”says Bolton.
Raw images were uploaded toNASA website where professionals and amateurs can find them. Also there you can find several examples of already processed images with color correction.
“It is always interesting to get acquainted with the new“ raw ”images of Jupiter. But what’s even more exciting is the transformation of these raw shots into something amazingly beautiful that people can appreciate. That's what I live for, ”says graphic designer Jason Major, who handles photography.
A few examples of processed images of the Great Red Spot of Jupiter can be found below.