Jupiter is the fifth planet in the solar system. Earlier, observations regarding Jupiter were only possible through the Space. However, recently, NASA’s flying observatory SOFIA has successfully dug up information regarding Jupiter.
After the twin voyage spacecraft mission in 1979, for the very first time NASA has made observations of Jupiter. NASA’s stratospheric Observatory for infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has made this possible. The observatory created certain maps which helps the astronomers of NASA to trace information regarding this gas giant planet Jupiter.
Infrared observatories are designed to provide details which other wavelengths can’t. Jupiter is a gaseous planet. Studying Jupiter through visible wavelengths is not a fair idea. Visible wavelengths can only detect reflexes observed from the top of the gasses and clouds that make up the atmosphere.
Infrared light has higher wavelength than that of visible lights. Hence, when observations are made with the help of infrared medium, it helps the scientists to see past the dense clouds and gasses and make better observations. It penetrates deep inside the gas and provides a three dimensional view of the surrounding. It also makes it possible to study the pattern how gasses circulate in the atmosphere.
Leigh N. Fletcher from the University Of Leicester, England, with his team of researchers used SOFIA to make successful observations and collected data from that observation, known as FORCAST. During that research Fletcher’s team was actually look deep into the hydrogen properties. They were finding information regarding two hydrogen protons- Para and Ortho.
Images taken by SOFIA reveals different interesting features o Jupiter. The cold red spot on Jupiter’s southern hemisphere is actually an upwelling of gas that has accumulated over the year. The circular belt zone structure near the equator denotes that the equator is cold. The equator is surrounded by warm belt of sinking gasses.
SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope. It is expected to bring more positive results in future.