karl g. jansky very large array

New radio map of Jupiter reveals what's beneath colorful clouds

Astronomers using the upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico have produced the most detailed radio map yet of the atmosphere of Jupiter, revealing the massive movement of ammonia gas that underlies the colorful bands, spots and whirling clouds visible to the naked eye.

The University of California, Berkeley researchers measured radio emissions from Jupiter’s atmosphere in wavelength bands where clouds are transparent. The observers were able to see as deep as 100 kilometers (60 miles) below the cloud tops, a largely unexplored region where clouds form.

The planet’s thermal radio emissions are partially absorbed by ammonia gas. Based on the amount of absorption, the researchers could determine how much ammonia is present and at what depth.

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