Hot spot on Jupiter

Hot spot on Jupiter

. The dark region near the center of this image is an equatorial “hotspot”, similar to the site where the Galileo spacecraft parachuted a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere in December 1995. Jupiter has many such regions, and they continually change, so the probe could not be targeted to either hit or avoid them. The dark hotspot is a clear gap in the clouds where infrared radiant energy from the planet’s deep atmosphere shines through. Although hotter than the surrounding clouds, these so-called “hotspots” are still colder than the freezing temperature of water. Dry atmospheric gas may be converging and sinking in these regions, maintaining their cloud-free appearance. The bright ovals, shown in other parts of this image, may be examples of upwelling moist air. The images combined in this mosaic were taken on 17 December 1996 from the Galileo spacecraft. (Courtesy of NASA and JPL.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University