Jupiter's Great Red Spot
July 14, 2017 3:36 PM   Subscribe

The Great. Red. Spot. "On July 11, 2017, at 00:55 UTC, the armored tank of a space probe Juno reached perijove, the closest point in its orbit over the mighty planet Jupiter. Screaming above the cloud tops at over 200,000 kilometers per hour — fast enough to cross the continental Unites States in a minute and a half — it took eleven minutes and 33 seconds to reach the Great Red Spot. Looking down from its height of a mere 9000 km above the clouds, what it saw was ... glorious." posted by homunculus (17 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Any word on how much of Juno's functionality has been lost thusfar? Jupiter's radiation is a real bitch, even with hardened electronics sealed in titanium.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:59 PM on July 14




World's largest planet Jupiter
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:31 PM on July 14


For a little perspective, Jupiters diameter is 140,000km. So 9,000 above clouds is pretty damn close!
posted by Captain Chesapeake at 4:32 PM on July 14


And not to burst everyone's bubble, but most images you see in the media have had their saturation turned way up..
posted by Captain Chesapeake at 4:33 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


From the Phil Plait link:

"The result scientists found after that first orbit is that Jupiter may have a core, but it’s ... fuzzy. Dilute. It may be bigger than first thought, too, containing 7-25 times the mass of Earth (Jupiter’s total mass is 318 times Earth’s)."

So there's a planet inside Jupiter, but it's a... slush planet, seven to twenty-five times more massive than Earth and partially liquefied by the heat and pressure of the hydrogen sea surrounding it. A slush. Planet.

Then there's the poles that are complete chaos, different from each other and also different from the neat-o hexagon on Saturn. It seems the main thing we're learning from exploring space is that the planets are all different from each other as well as being different from Earth. There's no "standard" out there.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:55 PM on July 14 [14 favorites]


Kevin, that's a neat observation. We humans tend to think of Earth as being oh-so-very-special, but that must just be because we know so much more about it. Every planet—all the thousands we know of and who knows how many we don't and never will—is as much a world as ours, with as much (or more!) variety and complexity. Home is always special, but there are many homes out there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:54 PM on July 14


Oh man, in the chaos of reality, I'd forgotten about the glorious chaos of space, and that these images were due this week. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:08 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Interesting callout, Kevin Street, the definition of "core" is undefined; is this the liquified metalic hydrogen that much of the core has been assumed to possess, or are there a significant amount of heavier elements there (like iron or nickle), or are they measuring something else?

Not entirely surprised that Jupiter's core, on the face of it, appears to be more amorphous than originally speculated. We don't have a lot of experience with how metalic hydrogen behaves, especially at such an enormous scale.

Regardless, this is probably AMAZING data for a LOT of different scientific fields; for one, does the sun have a similar amorphous/changeable "core"-equivalent, or does the kinetics of gravitationally-induced fusion change that, and how.
posted by porpoise at 7:32 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


This is glorious. Thank you for sharing and thank you Kevin Street for the additional information.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:47 PM on July 14


Eh, it's okay. I've seen better red spots.
posted by Naberius at 8:16 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


"... is this the liquified metalic hydrogen that much of the core has been assumed to possess, or are there a significant amount of heavier elements there (like iron or nickle), or are they measuring something else?"

Just going from the Bad Astronomy article that homunculus linked, it sounds like this suggests there is a rocky or metallic core down there, albeit a melted one. If Jupiter formed from "the bottom up" then there should be some kind of solid core that accreted first and then was smothered by gas, but if Jupiter formed from "the top down" then it would be mostly hydrogen, and thus less dense. Apparently the scientists could indirectly measure the density from the way it effected Juno's orbit, kind of like how satellites detect mineral deposits on Earth through gravitational anomalies.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:04 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


a mere 9000 km above the clouds

The Red Spot is a big place, and that's not close enough to even see the yachts sailing around in their usual lazy circuits. I went to kindergarten with a kid from Jupiter, he told me all about it. Lovely spot this time of year, and the Royal Jovian Regatta is on next week I think.
posted by sfenders at 6:43 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


And not to burst everyone's bubble, but most images you see in the media have had their saturation turned way up..

more like great brown spot amirite?
posted by straight at 10:28 AM on July 15


Eh, it's okay. I've seen better red spots.

Jupiter's Pretty Good Red Spot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:08 PM on July 15


Cool post, thanks! News of other planets is a pleasant diversion from the news of this planet.
posted by Quietgal at 9:08 AM on July 16


A slush. Planet.

Earth: A gobstopper covered in a great big glob of gooey caramel, encased in a thin candy shell.
Jupiter: A giant ball of cotton candy that's starting to go melty in the middle.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:55 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


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