The Great Red Spot on Jupiter has always raised the eyebrows of researchers since Giovanni Cassini discovered it in 1965. Since then, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of its red colour, but they failed. It took scientists nearly a half century to find the exact cause of its red colour.
Finally, researchers solved the mystery when they used ultraviolet light to simulate sunlight and blasted it on two gases; acetylene and ammonia that exists on Jupiter. The experiment produced red colour similar to giant red spot on Jupiter. According to NASA scientists, the red spot is a giant storm that has survived for more than 300 years, and the storm is gigantic in fact it is so large that it can gobble up three Earth within it. With good quality telescopes, one can easily see the red spot in Jupiter.
“Our models suggest most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material. Under the reddish ‘sunburn’ the clouds are probably whitish or grayish.” said NASA researcher Kevin Baines. “The Great Red Spot is extremely tall. It reaches much higher altitudes than clouds elsewhere on Jupiter.”
Though the storm is rotating with a blazing speed but still takes nearly six days to complete one rotation due to its massive size with a width that’s double that of the earth. The intense red colour might be due to storm winds bring ammonia at top layer of the storm thus exposing it to get reacted with ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun resulting in production of intense red colour.
Apart from red, Jupiter shows different colours including brown, orange, etc. that attract astronomer’s attention. Researchers have yet to find the exact cause for each of these colors. It took nearly 50 years for scientists to solve the mystery of red, hope they solve the mystery of other colours soon.
NASA will present its findings this week at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Science Meeting in Tucson, Arizona.