(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –NASA scientists peering deep inside Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a storm that has been raging on the planet for over 350 years — have detected signs of water above the planet’s deepest clouds. The pressure of the water combined with their measurements of another oxygen-bearing gas, carbon monoxide, imply that Jupiter has two to nine times more oxygen than the Sun, researchers said.
The findings, published in the Astronomical Journal, support theoretical and computer-simulation models that have predicted abundant water on Jupiter. The revelation was stirring given that the team’s experiment could have easily failed. The Great Red Spot is full of dense clouds, which makes it hard for electromagnetic energy to escape and teach astronomers anything about the chemistry within.
“It turns out they’re not so thick that they block our ability to see deeply,” said Gordon L Bjoraker, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The data collected will supplement the information NASA’s Juno spacecraft is gathering as it circles the planet from north to south once every 53 days.