Research

Jovian Circulation

Illustration of meridonal cells in Jupiter's atmosphere.

Jupiter‘s atmosphere remains quite mysterious, due to our limited ability to measure the depths of the gas giant’s clouds. But measurements from the Juno spacecraft are continuing to shape researchers’ understanding of our massive neighbor. By tracking ammonia distributions in Jupiter’s belts and zones, a team has found a series of circulation cells similar to the Ferrel cells of Earth’s midlatitudes.

Unlike the stronger Hadley cells and polar cells, Earth’s Ferrel cells are relatively weak. They’re driven by turbulence and the motion of the circulation cells to the north and south. The Northern and Southern hemispheres each have one Ferrel cell. In contrast, Jupiter — with its larger size and higher rotation rate — boasts eight Ferrel-like cells in each hemisphere! (Image and research credit: K. Duer et al.; via Universe Today; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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