In what marks a first in the history of the exploration of Jupiter, scientists have discovered water clouds lurking deep in the planet’s Great Red Spot. This storm, which has lasted for centuries, and is more massive than Earth, may hold clues as to how Jupiter developed and if indeed life has ever been present upon it.
According to the Daily Mail, the discovery of water clouds on Jupiter has shown that water is actually even more of a common element on the planet than had been previously thought by scientists.
As Clemson University astrophysicist Máté Ádámkovics explained, the most recent study on water clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot focused solely on the spot itself. However, once further studies are conducted, scientists should hopefully have a much better idea as to whether these water clouds exist elsewhere on the planet.
“Our current study focused on the red spot, but future projects will be able to estimate how much water exists on the entire planet. And, finally, where there’s the potential for liquid water, the possibility of life cannot be completely ruled out.”
With regard to life being found inside these water clouds, Ádámkovics remarked that even though “it appears very unlikely, life on Jupiter is not beyond the range of our imaginations.”
The clouds were first discovered by using thermal-sensitive telescopes, which were able to detect chemical signatures of water inside. Scientists noted that after analyzing the pressure of the water and then measuring these in combination with carbon monoxide, it was determined that Jupiter most likely contains up to nine times more oxygen even than the sun.
Scientists have for the first time detected water clouds deep inside the Great Red Spot on Jupiter https://t.co/17LqYuDMbt
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) August 31, 2018
The idea that there are water clouds on Jupiter has led to speculation that “exotic life,” as NASA has called it, certainly has the potential to exist there. In the past, NASA has stated that certain chemicals found on Jupiter could certainly lend credence to the theory that a very special kind of life could be found on the planet.
“At certain altitudes in Jupiter’s atmosphere, there do exist chemicals that are necessary for some sort of exotic life form. The temperatures are warm enough and flashes of lighting could provided energy that drives the chemical reactions needed for life.”
Along with the exciting discovery of water clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, scientists have also found evidence that Jupiter may have gone through a migratory process to the location where it currently sits.
According to UC Berkeley professor Imke de Pater, judging from the behavior of exoplanets, it is wholly possible that Jupiter originated in a different location and then eventually migrated to where it is now. However, this does raise the question of whether the planet may have originally formed further afield from Neptune.
“Based upon all the exoplanets now known, it appears as if planets may form at a different place and then migrate in and/or out to where we see them today. So what happened in our solar system? Did Jupiter form beyond where Neptune is today?”
Scientists will be conducting further studies now to determine just how widespread water may be on Jupiter and whether it may exist in abundance outside of the water clouds in the planet’s Great Red Spot.