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NASA: Juno spacecraft spots storms occurring in Jupiter
Over time, space enthusiasts and scientists learn more and more about what is happening on other planets in our solar system. NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently spotted storms occurring in the gas giant Jupiter.
Data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft revealed what could be described as bad weather in the gas giant Jupiter. After some analysis, astronomers found evidence of lightning storms unlike those that are commonly seen on Earth. The lightning on Jupiter is formed by clouds that have a mix of water and ammonia, unlike the lightning here on Earth which is made up of water clouds.
Astronomers have since referred to this as “shallow lightning,” as this kind of lightning is formed at a lower altitude where the ammonia functions like an antifreeze that maintains the cool temperature of the clouds, resulting in blasting of ice when the lightning strikes.
“In this new state, falling droplets of ammonia-water liquid can collide with the upgoing water-ice crystals and electrify the clouds. This was a big surprise, as ammonia-water clouds do not exist on Earth,” said Heidi Becker of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Juno Radiation Monitoring Investigation.
Scientists also discovered massive thunderstorm clouds that help form the ammonia-rich hailstones that could also be referred to as “mushballs” by the Juno team. These “mushballs” are made up of two-thirds water and one-third ammonia gas.
Previously, NASA’s scientists have found that life could be possible on Jupiter’s moon Europa. By simulating the reservoirs below the ice-shell surface, they found that the oceans on Europa may have come from a breakdown of minerals that have water, one of the important elements of life. They made use of the data from the agency’s Galileo mission and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Their findings suggest that oceanic space objects like Europa could have been formed by metamorphism which is a change in the composition of rocks through heat, pressure, or other natural occurrences. The heating and added pressure may have produced the breakdown of water-rich minerals that would release the trapped water.
Scientists also found that the oceans on Europa may be acidic, with a high concentration of carbon dioxide, calcium, and sulfate before it ultimately became abundant in chloride.