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Water discovery ups odds of life on Jupiter

Posted on Friday, 31 August, 2018 | Comment icon 12 comments

Is there life on Jupiter ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran
Scientists have revealed the discovery of water within the depths of the gas giant's famous Great Red Spot.
First observed through telescopes as far back as the 1600s, this distinctive atmospheric feature is a massive Earth-sized anticyclonic storm that has both baffled and intrigued scientists for centuries.

Most recently, a team of researchers has been delving beneath the surface of the Great Red Spot in an effort to search for something that scientists have expected to find on Jupiter for years - water.

"By formulating and analyzing data obtained using ground-based telescopes, our team has detected the chemical signatures of water deep beneath the surface of Jupiter's Great Red Spot," said Clemson University astrophysicist Máté Ádámkovics.

"Jupiter is a gas giant that contains more than twice the mass of all of our other planets combined. And though 99 percent of Jupiter's atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and helium, even solar fractions of water on a planet this massive would add up to a lot of water - many times more water than we have here on Earth."

The discovery is important, not only because it helps us understand more about Jupiter's structure but also because it increases the likelihood of finding so-called 'exotic' life in the gas giant's atmosphere.

"At certain altitudes in Jupiter's atmosphere, there do exist chemicals that are necessary for some sort of exotic life form," NASA has previously stated.

"The temperatures are warm enough and flashes of lightning could provide energy that drives the chemical reactions needed for life."

If there really is life there, the Great Red Spot would certainly seem to be an ideal place to look for it.

Source: | Comments (12)

Tags: Jupiter, Great Red Spot

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Orphalesion on 31 August, 2018, 16:53
Yes! Jovian Life! I know it's still pretty unlikely, but I just like the idea of weird sky jellyfish floating around those endless masses of clouds...
Comment icon #4 Posted by seanjo on 31 August, 2018, 17:47
Indeed, in his sequel to 2001, Clarke speculated that there was life in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, large gas bags floating on the Jovian currents, and pterodactyl-like creatures.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 31 August, 2018, 18:27
Carl Sagan also speculated that some similar form of life could exist in Jupiter's clouds. Personally I am sceptical, but the universe has a way of making sceptics look silly.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Bunzilla on 31 August, 2018, 18:50
So, my question is, is there only water in the great red spot, or are they just using it as a window to look into the planet? Because if it's the former, that's pretty odd. Very interesting though, I love the idea of floating jovian life as well. Growing up, I had this book called 'Our Universe', and it had a whole section in it depicting all sorts of possible life forms on different planets. I loved that book so much I wore out the binding.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Orphalesion on 1 September, 2018, 8:06
Is it this book? I have seen that illustration of Jovian life several times and never knew that it came froma book, it's also interesting that it looks a lot like the deion by Clarke seanjo has posted, so it's likely to be inspired by that. It's strange though how, imho, of the proposed aliens in "Our Universe" the Jovian life seems to be the least whimsical and most likely. I mean it's particularly strange that the book ignored the posibility of life in Europa's underground ocean in favour, photosynthetic kangaroos with ice skates for... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by John Allanson on 1 September, 2018, 16:58
Patrick Moore in the sixties ran a competition on what could live in the clouds of Jupiter on The Sky At Night. Forget what the prize was or who won it or even what it looked like, but it floated!
Comment icon #9 Posted by Bunzilla on 3 September, 2018, 19:28
Yep, that's the book! We still have it, even in its current delicate condition. I have to agree, some seem a lot more far-fetched than others. I always found the Europa one rather ridiculous too. The 'Fishmanders' on Titan though, adorable.
Comment icon #10 Posted by psyche101 on 4 September, 2018, 3:27
What state would the water be in?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Habitat on 4 September, 2018, 5:28
Isn't there a lot of radiation around Jupiter ?
Comment icon #12 Posted by TripGun on 6 September, 2018, 18:49
Yes, extreme in fact.

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