NASA’s scientists have finally got a rare glimpse under the surface of one of the most powerful phenomenon in our solar system.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is without doubt one of the great wonders of space and yet we still know very little about it.
Twice the width of Earth, this gargantuan cyclone is over 10,000km wide and has been raging for over 350 years.
In the past we’ve only been able to appreciate this vast phenomenon from the surface,
However using data collected from the Juno spacecraft, the team were able to create a crude 3D animation that shows what it would look like if we could feasibly dive down into the abyss.
While it certainly looks cool, the animation highlights a new and pretty amazing fact which is that not only is the Great Red Spot fantastically wide but that its roots extend 50 to 100 times deeper than our own oceans on Earth.
With wind speeds of up to 400mph, the Great Red Spot is sadly something humans will really only be able to appreciate from a distance rather than going in head-on.
As if to hammer that point home the team also discovered something else pretty terrifying which is that Jupiter has an invisible band of radiation that’s travelling close to the planet’s surface at almost light speed.
“The closer you get to Jupiter, the weirder it gets,” said Heidi Becker, Juno’s radiation monitoring investigation lead at JPL.
“We knew the radiation would probably surprise us, but we didn’t think we’d find a new radiation zone that close to the planet. We only found it because Juno’s unique orbit around Jupiter allows it to get really close to the cloud tops during science collection flybys, and we literally flew through it.”
Of course in terms of visiting Jupiter this is a moot point, you see Jupiter has a magnetic field surrounding it that’s 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s.
Extending some billion kilometres out from the planet’s core this invisible forcefield would be deadly to humans and is already so powerful that it’s doing considerable damage to NASA’s Juno spacecraft.