Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • For the first time, scientists were able to directly measure winds in Jupiter's stratosphere.

  • The results were astonishing and reveal what a beast the largest planet in our solar system really is.

  • Jupiter is the oldest planet in our solar system, so by learning more about the planet and its weather,

  • we can better understand the early history of our solar system.

  • So then, why are we looking at Jupiter's winds?

  • Well, each planet has its own unique conditions we can learn from, like a natural laboratory with its ownexperiments”.

  • And as for Jupiter, it's known to be home to some of the stormiest systems.

  • In the lower atmosphere, scientists track Jupiter's winds using the swirling red and white clouds of gas.

  • Higher in the planet's upper atmosphere are strong winds that create vibrant auroras at its poles.

  • And then there's the region between these two layers, the stratosphere.

  • Up until now, we've known little about what's going on in there.

  • Well, researchers had no way to directly measure these winds, since cloud-tracking technologies become useless when there's no clouds.

  • That is, unless there's something else they could measure.

  • Nearly three decades ago, a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter, creating completely new molecules in its stratosphere.

  • Some of these particles continue to fly in the planet's winds to this very day.

  • Now, a team of astronomers was able to track one of these molecules, hydrogen cyanide,

  • using the high-precision antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, or ALMA.

  • When these molecules move in the winds of Jupiter's stratosphere, the frequency of their radiation slightly changes.

  • This is called the Doppler effect, the change in a wave's frequency depending on if the molecule is moving closer to, or farther away from the observer.

  • Just like how you can determine the speed of a passing fire truck by the change in its sirens frequency,

  • the Doppler effect lets scientists measure tiny changes in the frequency of radiation emitted by the molecules.

  • In just under 30 minutes of observation, scientists were able to

  • directly measure the speed of the stratospheric "jets" on Jupiter's poles and equator.

  • Just like the jet streams on Earth, “jetsare the narrow bands of wind in the atmosphere.

  • And the measurements from the stratosphere were completely unexpected.

  • According to past research, upper-atmospheric winds at Jupiter's poles would likely slow down and completely disappear before getting to the stratosphere.

  • But these results indicate that not only do these winds exist, but they're also super strong.

  • Scientists found jets with speeds of up to 400 meters per second.

  • This is more than twice the maximum speeds in Jupiter's biggest storm, the Great Red Spot

  • and is more than three times as fast as Earth's most powerful tornadoes.

  • These wind patterns at Jupiter's poles could act as a massive vortex, one that's four times the diameter of Earth, and 900 kilometers tall!

  • That makes this vortex one of the most uniquely powerful weather phenomena in our entire solar system.

  • And soon, we'll be getting even juicier results, from the European Space Agency's mission JUpiter ICy moons Explorer or JUICE.

  • It launches in 2022, but won't reach Jupiter until seven years later in 2029.

  • JUICE will further investigate Jupiter's weather, from the tops of its clouds down to its thermosphere.

  • The mission will also explore three of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa,

  • where evidence suggests there are large bodies of liquid water underneath their icy surfaces.

  • Although it'll be awhile before JUICE reaches Jupiter or its moons,

  • it'll be worth the wait to discover more about the oldest and largest planet of our Solar System.

  • Hey there, I'm Niba, a plant geneticist turned science content creator.

  • I'm excited to explore all things science, especially talking biology and environmental technologies, with you here on Seeker.

  • To learn more about JUICE's mission, check out this Countdown to Launch episode.

  • If there's any other planetary discovery that you'd like to see us cover, let us know in the comments below.

  • Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.

For the first time, scientists were able to directly measure winds in Jupiter's stratosphere.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 jupiter stratosphere solar system planet solar measure

Jupiter’s Polar Winds Create a Vortex Way Bigger Than Earth Itself

  • 5 0
    Summer posted on 2021/07/23
Video vocabulary