Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is a pretty amazing entity. One of the more interesting elements of the planet is the Great Red Spot, a perpetual anticyclonic storm that has been observed since 1830. It’s within this giant storm that scientists now believe hides another of Jupiter’s secrets: water.
Research coming out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center suggests that there may indeed be ice present on the planet. After all, all of the moons that orbit Jupiter are primarily made of ice, and Jupiter has a tremendous gravitational pull. It makes sense that the planet would be rich in water, as well.
The research conducted by the Goddard Flight Center involved collecting radiation data by way of advanced infrared telescopes. One of these telescopes is located in Hawaii at the Mauna Kea summit. The other is located at the Keck Observatory, in Waimea, and is considered to be the most sensitive infrared telescope in the world.
Information was also gathered using the Juno spacecraft, capable of probing into the clouds of Jupiter deeper than any other mission before.
Using the combined equipment, scientists observed the Great Red Spot and studied its thermal radiation leaks. Through this observation, they discovered that chemically, water was capable of existing within the clouds of the giant storm.
Specifically, the deepest cloud layers of the Great Red Spot have conditions that are capable of producing water.
In short, Jupiter has an abundance of both oxygen and hydrogen, the primary ingredients of water. Now, the real question is just how much water Jupiter could actually hold.
It’s an important question to answer, because by knowing how much water is present on Jupiter, scientists will be able to determine how the giant planet was formed. It doesn’t end with Jupiter, though. If it can be confirmed that there is indeed water on the planet, it could lead to more research on other planets like Uranus, Saturn or Neptune, where we don’t have the luxury of orbiting spacecraft.