Space & Astronomy
Water discovery ups odds of life on Jupiter
August 31, 2018 | 11 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.
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