Jovian Dynamics

Our solar system’s largest planet is a mysterious and majestic font of fluid dynamics. Unlike rocky Earth, Jupiter is made entirely of fluids. Beneath its massive gaseous atmosphere lies an ocean of liquid hydrogen. The lack of solid ground to weaken storms may explain some of the longevity of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a hurricane that’s been raging on the planet for more than a hundred and fifty years. Part of the challenge of understanding Jupiter’s dynamics is that most of our data consists of observations of the uppermost layer of the atmosphere. It’s kind of like trying to describe an entire ocean based on the surface alone; what we see is part of the story, but it’s only a small portion of a much greater whole. (Image credit: NASA; submitted by jshoer)


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