A recent research conducted by NASA indicates that one of the most notorious features on Jupiter´s atmosphere-the Great Red Spot, could be the source of the gas giant planet´s unexplained atmospheric temperatures. Jupiter is nearly five times farther from the sun than earth; as a consequence the sun´s energy that it receives is five times less than earth. Scientists does not understand the reason of Jupiter´s upper atmosphere temperatures. The research study intends to understand what the real source of Jupiter´s atmospheric temperatures is if it´s not the sun.


This giant gas planet is the fifth planet from the sun and lies at a distance of 778 million km (483 million miles), which corresponds to 5, 2 astronomical units (AU). The earth lies at 1 AU from the sun. Jupiter is made of predominantly of hydrogen, with some percentage of helium and traces of other gases. Due to the distance of Jupiter to the sun, the heat it receives is very weak and the majority of the heating stems from the planet´s interior. Convection and plasma hydrogen produce more heat than the one received from the sun.

Research into Jupiter’s atmosphere

Scientists used a 3 meter infrared telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Observing the gas giant´s atmosphere in the infrared spectrum, scientists found that temperatures tended to be much higher at certain points in around the area of the Red Spot.

They concluded that the turbulence I the vicinity of Red Spot creates two kind of energy waves-gravity and compression waves. It´s believed that the interaction between these two kinds of waves creates the heat above the Great Red Spot.

The high temperatures observed in the upper atmosphere, above the great red spot seem to be the origin of the energy that is transferred around the planet.

This could explain the entire heating phenomenon of the gas giant. A process of heat hundreds of degrees hotter that could not be described having the sun as its only energy source. It´s beleived that the source of heat could come from the Jupiter´s deep interior..

The Great Red Spot

This is one of the most notorious and recognizable features on the planet and has been observed for three centuries, since it was first discovered.

The red spot-a reddish storm of gas is two to three times as big as the earth and has winds as fast as 643 km (400 miles)/hour. This prominent feature can be seen from earth with a small aperture telescope.

Juno Spacecraft, which is now orbiting the gas giant planet will start conducting Science studies on Jupiter promptly and will be observing the red spot as never before. With its microwave radiometer, it will be analyzing deep into the planet, disclosing this and other mysteries about Jupiter.