Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wind Power on Jupiter

This image of Jupiter's Little Red Spot was captured earlier this year by NASA's New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI):
The Little Red Spot isn't so little in terrestrial terms:
The Little Red Spot is the second largest storm on Jupiter, roughly 70% the size of the Earth, and it started turning red in late-2005.
Try finding Delaware in that maelstrom. Of course, with Delaware turning blue in recent years, it might be easier, even from millions of miles away.
The clouds in the Little Red Spot rotate counterclockwise, or in the anticyclonic direction, because it is a high-pressure region. In that sense, the Little Red Spot is the opposite of a hurricane on Earth, which is a low-pressure region and, of course, the Little Red Spot is far larger than any hurricane on Earth.
Scientists don't know exactly how or why the Little Red Spot turned red, though they speculate that the change could stem from a surge of exotic compounds from deep within Jupiter, caused by an intensification of the storm system. In particular, sulfur-bearing cloud droplets might have been propelled about 50 kilometers into the upper level of ammonia clouds, where brighter sunlight bathing the cloud tops released the red-hued sulfur embedded in the droplets, causing the storm to turn red. A similar mechanism has been proposed for the Little Red Spot's "older brother," the Great Red Spot, a massive energetic storm system that has persisted for over a century.
As for wind power, Jupiter's winds reach 360 km/hour (that's about 220 miles/hour).
Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

1 Comments:

Anonymous kavips said...

Well written. I liked this line.

Try finding Delaware in that maelstrom. Of course, with Delaware turning blue in recent years, it might be easier, even from millions of miles away.

3:20 AM, May 13, 2007  

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