Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is mainly made up of liquids and gases. Its clouds are shaped by jet streams, winds and vortices into numerous parallel bands, as well as coloured patches, one of which clearly stands out: the Great Red Spot. This is an Earth-sized anticyclone that has been observed for over 350 years, but has suddenly decreased in size in recent years.
The cloud layer is extremely opaque, making it hard to observe at deeper levels. However, using laboratory experiments, analyses and numerical simulations, scientists at the Institut de Recherche sur les Phenomenes Hors Equilibre (Institute for Research on Non-Equilibrium Processes) (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Universite/Ecole Centrale de Marseille) studied the dynamics of large vortices and determined the universal balance of forces that creates them.
Their model is thus able to predict the thickness of the Great Red Spot, which has remained remarkably constant over time despite the reduction in its surface area. The results are published in Nature Physics on 16 March 2020, and will shortly be compared with upcoming observations by NASA's Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011.
Research Report: "Remote Determination of the Shape of Jupiter's Vortices from Laboratory Experiments"
Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
Ultraviolet instrument delivered for ESA's Jupiter mission
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San Antonio TX (SPX) Feb 26, 2020
An ultraviolet spectrograph (UVS) designed and built by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is the first scientific instrument to be delivered for integration onto the European Space Agency's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft. Scheduled to launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2030, JUICE will spend at least three years making detailed observations in the Jovian system before going into orbit around the solar system's largest moon, Ganymede.
Aboard JUICE, UVS will get close-up views o ... read more