Hot spots on Jupiter have the same pattern as Rossby wave on Earth

Main Points:

Scientists have found that the “hot spots” in the atmosphere of Jupiter are created by Rossby wave, a pattern also seen in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. They made this discovery with the help of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.



Series of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft showing hot spots (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/GSFC)
Series of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showing hot spots (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/GSFC)

Study Further:

Hot spots are present in the cloudless patches of the Jupiter’s atmosphere. These are the breaks in the clouds and can help the scientists to look in the deeper layers, which are warmer and appear brighter at the infrared wavelengths, so these are hot spots. These are regularly formed in the atmosphere of the Jupiter.

Scientists were not aware of the reason of these clearings and the spots near the planet’s equator.

“This is the first time anybody has closely tracked the shape of multiple hot spots over a period of time, which is the best way to appreciate the dynamic nature of these features,” said the study’s lead author, David Choi, a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Scientists made time-lapse movies from a the data obtained by Cassini during its closest approach to the planet in late 2000 and worked on a line of hot spots and studied the sizes and shapes of the hot spots –  between one of Jupiter’s dark belts and bright white zones, roughly 7 degrees north of the equator.

Scientists found that the movements of the hot spots are same as the pattern of a Rossby wave in the atmosphere that plays an important role in the weather on Earth. These waves move around the Earth but periodically wander north and south. The hot spots also rotate the planet west to east and up and down in the atmosphere. They found that the waves may rise and fall 15 to 30 miles (24 to 50 kilometers) in altitude.




Choi, D., Showman, A., Vasavada, A., & Simon-Miller, A. (2013). Meteorology of Jupiter’s equatorial hot spots and plumes from Cassini Icarus, 223 (2), 832-843 DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.02.001

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