Researchers have detected chemical signatures of water deep below the surface of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The findings support the early hypothesis on the surface of Jupiter and provide strong evidence that the planet has an abundance of water in its atmosphere.
Gas giant Jupiter has always been a mystery for scientists. The atmosphere of the planet is full of dense and swirling clouds, making it difficult for researchers to look into it properly and determine its composition. In 1995, NASA's historic Galileo probe popped into the atmosphere of Jupiter and discovered that Jupiter is much drier than expected.
"The moons that revolve around Jupiter are usually water ice, so the whole neighborhood has a lot of water," said NASA astrophysicist Gordon L. Bjoraker. "Why would the planet – which is this enormous gravity good, where everything falls – also be water rich?"
Using advanced spectroscopic technology, researchers peeked deep into Jupiter's atmosphere and found evidence of water in the deepest layers of the Great Red Spot. Jupiter's iconic Great Red Spot is a huge storm that has been swirling over the sky of the planet for at least 150 years. In the 19th century the Great Red Spot was more than two broad earth.
"Jupiter is a gas giant that contains more than twice the mass of all our other planets, and although 99 percent of Jupiter's atmosphere is hydrogen and helium, even solar fractions of water on a planet, this massive would have been merged with many water – many times more water than we have here on earth. "Clemson University astrophysicist Máté Ádámkovics said in a statement.
Researchers used two ground-based telescope instruments to detect water signatures in the atmosphere of red spots. The iSHELL instrument is installed on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and can detect a wide range of gases over the color spectrum. Near Infrared Spectograph is part of the Keck 2 telescope, the most sensitive infrared telescope on earth.
The observations suggested that Jupiter has three layers of clouds in his Great Red Spot. The upper layer is made of ammonia and the middle one consists of ammonia and sulfur. The deepest of the three cloud layers is believed to have originated from water ice and liquid water.
"The discovery of water on Jupiter using our technique is important in many ways.Our current study focused on the red spot, but future projects will be able to estimate how much water there is on the planet," Ádámkovics said. . "Where there is potential for liquid water, the possibility of life can not be completely ruled out, so although it seems very unlikely, life on Jupiter is not beyond the reach of our imagination."