The most ambitious project ever developed by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope, which will replace the Hubble, will study the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot to help scientists better understand the formation of this iconic storm.
Although James Webb is not yet ready, NASA already planned its missions. Thus, among the first tasks the James Webb Space Telescope will perform, there will be the infrared examination of the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
“Webb’s infrared sensitivity provides a wonderful complement to Hubble visible-wavelength studies of the Great Red Spot. Hubble images have revealed striking changes in the size of the Great Red Spot over the mission’s multi-decade-long lifetime,” explained astronomer Heidi Hammel, VP at AURA (the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy).
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, but this one might very well remain a mystery
The scientists plan on using Webb’s mid-infrared instrument, the so-called MIRI instrument, to develop multispectral imaging of the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot to better understand the formation, evolution, and future of the most iconic planetary storm in our solar system.
The astronomers believe the color of Jupiter’s iconic storm is given by the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation interaction with the nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus chemicals from the Jupiter’s atmosphere. Thus, the scientists hope to successfully use the James Webb Space Telescope’s MIRI instrument to identify chemical compounds that could be responsible for the reddish color of the Jupiter’s storm.
“We’ll be looking for signatures of any chemical compounds that are unique to the Great Red Spot which could be responsible for the red chromophores. Chromophores are the parts of molecules responsible for their color. If we don’t see any unexpected chemistry or aerosol signatures, then the mystery of that red color may remain unresolved,” affirmed Leigh Fletcher, a researcher at the University of Leicester, in the UK.