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Jupiter’s massive Great Red Spot is at least 350 kilometers deep

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has measured the storm’s depth for the first time

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4:31pm, December 12, 2017
Jupiter

HIDDEN DEPTHS  Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (left in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft) extends down into the planet’s atmosphere at least 350 kilometers, as far as Juno can see.

NEW ORLEANS — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has deep roots. Data from the first pass of NASA’s Juno spacecraft over the incessant storm show that its clouds stretch at least 350 kilometers down into the planet’s atmosphere. That means the storm is about as deep as the International Space Station is high above the Earth.

Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4, 2016, and it made its first close flyby of the red spot about a year later (SN Online: 7/7/17). As the spacecraft swooped 9,000 kilometers above the giant storm, Juno’s microwave radiometer peered through the deep layers of cloud, measuring the atmosphere’s temperature down hundreds of kilometers.

“Juno is probing beneath these clouds, and finding the roots of the red spot,” Juno co-investigator Andrew

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