Dynamical systems theory enhances knowledge of Jupiter's atmosphere

February 17, 2016
This is Jupiter's Great Red Spot in 2000 as seen by NASA's Cassini orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Jupiter, which has a mass more than twice that of all the planets combined, continues to fascinate researchers. The planet is characterized most often by its powerful jet streams and Great Red Spot (GRS), the biggest and longest-lasting known atmospheric vortex. Although still images provide some insight into the features of Jupiter's atmosphere, the atmosphere itself is unsteady and turbulent, and its features are time-dependent.

In a paper published this month in SIAM Review, authors Alireza Hadjighasem and George Haller use video footage to analyze Jupiter's transport barriers and examine prior conclusions about Jupiter's .

According to , transport barriers exist in complex flows as objects that cannot be crossed by other fluid trajectories. Those in unsteady flows, such as Jupiter's atmosphere, are material surfaces with coherent features in their deformations. These surfaces are called Lagrangian coherent structures (LCSs). Hadjighasem and Haller employ geodesic LCS theory, which generates transport barriers as smooth curves, to search for unsteady transport barriers in the planet's atmosphere.

Using a video from NASA's 2000 Cassini mission, the authors apply an existing algorithm, called Advection Corrected Correlation Image Velocimetry (ACCIV), to obtain a time-resolved, two-dimensional representation of Jupiter's wind-velocity field. From this representation, they construct an unstable velocity field model. Subsequent analysis recognizes - for the first time - unsteady material transport barriers surrounding both the GRS and the jet streams around the GRS caused by Jupiter's fast rotation. These discoveries reinforce prior conclusions about Jupiter's atmosphere.

NASA's Juno mission will reach Jupiter in 2016, and the authors hope that this mission will provide information that will extend their current examinations to three dimensions. Their findings have potential applications for the remote observance of patterns in oceanography, meteorology, crowd surveillance, and environmental monitoring.

Explore further: Image of Jupiter from a ground-based telescope

More information: Alireza Hadjighasem et al. Geodesic Transport Barriers in Jupiter's Atmosphere: A Video-Based Analysis, SIAM Review (2016). DOI: 10.1137/140983665

Related Stories

Image of Jupiter from a ground-based telescope

March 6, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- This image of Jupiter and its moons Io and Ganymede was acquired by amateur astronomer Damian Peach on Sept. 12, 2010, when Jupiter was close to opposition. South is up and the "Great Red Spot" is visible ...

NASA's Juno spacecraft burns for Jupiter

February 4, 2016

NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path today, Feb. 3. The maneuver refined the spacecraft's trajectory, helping set the stage for Juno's arrival at the solar system's ...

Image: Jupiter's great red spot viewed by Voyager I

March 20, 2014

At about 89,000 miles in diameter, Jupiter could swallow 1,000 Earths. It is the largest planet in the solar system and perhaps the most majestic. Vibrant bands of clouds carried by winds that can exceed 400 mph continuously ...

Juno spacecraft breaks solar power distance record

January 14, 2016

NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity's most distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, Jan. 13, when Juno was about 493 million ...

Image: Pioneer 10's groundbreaking approach to Jupiter

December 5, 2013

On Dec. 4, 1973, NASA's Pioneer 10 spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter of ever-increasing size. The most dramatic moment was after closest approach and after the spacecraft was hidden behind Jupiter. Here, images gradually ...

Recommended for you

New insights on the nature of the star V501 Aurigae revealed

February 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—Astronomers have presented the results of new photometric and spectroscopic observations of the star V501 Aurigae (V501 Aur for short), providing new insights into the nature of this object. The findings show ...

Scientists readying to create first image of a black hole

February 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from around the world is getting ready to create what might be the first image of a black hole. The project is the result of collaboration between teams manning radio receivers around the ...

Mapping the family tree of stars

February 20, 2017

Astronomers are borrowing principles applied in biology and archaeology to build a family tree of the stars in the galaxy. By studying chemical signatures found in the stars, they are piecing together these evolutionary trees ...

Dating the Milky Way's disc

February 20, 2017

When a star like our sun gets to be very old, after another seven billion years or so, it will no longer be able to sustain burning its nuclear fuel. With only about half of its mass remaining, it will shrink to a fraction ...

SpaceX launches rocket from NASA's historic moon pad

February 19, 2017

A SpaceX rocket soared from NASA's long-idled moonshot pad Sunday, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.