In 2011, NASA launched into orbit the JUNO probe, for an exploration mission around Jupiter. It took 5 years for the shuttle to reach this distant planet. Thanks to its two very high definition cameras, Juno has provided scientists with awesome pictures. They have allowed a better understanding of this enormous ball of gas. The instrument revealed the famous large red spot and its gigantic magnetic field. Then this time, he has just recorded a discovery in relation to our planet.
According to a new study, there are similarities between the phytoplankton whirlpools on Earth and the cyclonic eddies on Jupiter. If one looks at satellite images of marine phytoplankton blooms here on Earth alongside images of atmospheric turbulence at the poles of Jupiter, it may be hard to tell them apart.
The most turbulent place in the solar system
In addition to its red and white bands, Jupiter has a prominent feature known as the “Great Red Spot”. First identified in the 1600s, this task is actually a violent storm located just south of the planet’s equator. This violent cyclone took about six earth days to complete a full rotation. And it’s big enough to hold at least two planet Earths within it.
Then Jupiter’s magnetic field is almost 20,000 times more powerful than that of the Earth. The electromagnetic storms it generates can be heard by radio amateurs on Earth. The fact is they are projected towards us by plasmas and magnetic field lines. Sometimes Jupiter can even produce stronger radio signals than the Sun.
Basically, Juno’s mission was to understand the history of Jupiter’s formation and evolution. However, the images reveal much more important information for the large planet, than for ours. Thanks to a resolution of 10 km, Juno captures detailed images of turbulence zones on Jupiter.
Eddies at the bottom of our oceans and on the surface of Jupiter
Finally, it is confirmed that these turbulences on the surface of Jupiter are caused by wet convection. It is when warmer, less dense air rises, and even on a small scale, is enough to cause huge cyclones on the huge planet. And, fascinatingly, it took an oceanographer to make the connection.
They found that rapid convective upwelling transfers energy upward into giant cyclones, powering and sustaining them. This type of energy transfer has not been observed on any other planet. This discovery has a boomerang effect on earth : it could lead to a better understanding of our own atmospheric processes.
Observations of the winds made here on Earth show a similar kinetic energy spectrum as the Jovian observations. This suggests that a very similar energy transfer may be occurring on both planets.