By Catherine Hansen / NASA Earth Observatory
Jupiter is a gaseous planet – the largest planet in our solar system – more than 11 times the diameter of the Earth. But both Jupiter and Earth are governed by the same laws of physics. That is why the swirling vortex in the ocean of Earth is very much like a swirling vortex in Jupiter's dense atmosphere. The similarities are evident in those images showing the whirlpools in the atmosphere of Jupiter and the Baltic Sea on Earth. Norman Kuring, from NASA's Space Center, said:
This is all that fluids are moving on a rotating body. Kuring describes flow patterns as a combination of laminar (after a smooth path) and turbulent (uneven and chaotic). Flows can be characterized by numbers called renowned physicists such as Reynolds, Rossby and Reilly. But you do not need any learning about fluid dynamics to assess the consequences of it.
From all the complexity, beauty flows, whether it's images of Earth, Jupiter, or a coffee cup when it is poured into the cream.
Scientists believe that Jupiter has three different clouds.The image above is taken from the spacecraft Juno, shows ammonia-rich clouds that rotate in the outermost layer of the planet.
According to Alberto Adriani, a collaborator from the Juno mission by the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Planetology, the vortices in the clouds of Jupiter reflect interference in the atmosphere caused by the rapid rotation of the planet and the higher temperatures in the atmosphere, and it compares the phenomenon with the rapidly rotating fluid as it boils.
The Jupiter atmosphere patterns look similar to those in the Earth's oceans. On the satellite image of the natural color above, there is a green phytoplankton bloom tracing the edges of the whirlpool in the Baltic Sea. In this environment – the Earth's oceans – turbulent processes are important for the transfer of heat, carbon and nutrients around the planet. Models that accurately represent these processes are crucial to understanding weather in the air and the sea.
While scientists continue to explore the complexity of the Earth's oceans, astronomers learn more about Jupiter's complex composition – important for understanding how our solar system and other solar systems are formed. Kuring said:
In interpreting what we see elsewhere in the Solar System and the Universe, we are always comparing with phenomena we already know on Earth. We work from the familiar to the unknown.
The lower bound: The images compare the vortexing whirlwinds of Jupiter and Earth.