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Huge Storms Converge on Jupiter 205

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night dept.
tpoker writes to tell us NASA is reporting that the two biggest storms in the solar system are about to collide on Jupiter. From the article: "Storm #1 is the Great Red Spot, twice as wide as Earth itself, with winds blowing 350 mph. The behemoth has been spinning around Jupiter for hundreds of years. Storm #2 is Oval BA, also known as 'Red Jr.,' a youngster of a storm only six years old. Compared to the Great Red Spot, Red Jr. is half-sized, able to swallow Earth merely once, but it blows just as hard as its older cousin."
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Huge Storms Converge on Jupiter

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  • by grogdamighty (884570) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:32PM (#15484945) Homepage
    The summary is spot on! (Ba-dum, chink!)

    But seriously, did anyone else think that Hollywood is going to use this as the background for The Perfect Storm II?

    • by raehl (609729)
      The summary is spot on! (Ba-dum, chink!)

      Except for the whole basic math thing.

      If one object is two earths wide, and another object is one earth wide, the 2nd object is one FOURTH the size of the first, not one half.*

      * Assumes objects are of the same shape and the shape is uniform in one dimension. Which should be pretty good assumptions in this case.
      • (Ba-dum, chink!)
        • by Kagura (843695) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:10AM (#15485262)
          ... able to swallow Earth merely once, but it blows just as hard as its older cousin."

          Mmm... incestulicious!
      • * Assumes objects are of the same shape and the shape is uniform in one dimension. Which should be pretty good assumptions in this case.

        No, sorry. The cross section of Earth is very nearly circular. The Great Red Spot is very eliptical, being only about half as high as it is wide. In this case, something that is approximately twice as wide as Earth, also has approximately twice the area.
      • I thought the one about how the cyclones aren't going to collide just having a near miss, even though they should be close enough to affect eachother, was more obvious.
      • You could be making the same mistake they have made in assuming that there is no reduction in the height dimension. If the smaller storm is also half the height (not an unreasonable assumption in the extremely deep atmosphere of Jupiter) then it's actually one eighth the size.
  • Collide? (Score:5, Informative)

    by thePig (964303) <rajmohan_h.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:42PM (#15484982) Journal
    From the article "There won't be a head-on collision. and the storms' outer bands will pass quite close to one another.
    I guess the summary was a little bit of a hyperbole. Esp. for an event that happens every two years.
    • Re:Collide? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jbrader (697703) <stillnotpynchon@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:46PM (#15484998)
      You're right, but they're expected to come closer this time then they have in the past.
      • they're expected to come closer this time then they have in the past.

        Which means that we'll get something like this [wikipedia.org]:

        A shear line is an area in a low pressure trough, usually in the tropics, within which wind direction changes significantly over a relatively short distance. The area is marked by an increase in cumuluform clouds, often including towering cumulus, and rainshowers. It may become more active with thunderstorms, and the turbulence and circular motion of winds may assist in the formation of a trop

      • Re:Collide? (Score:5, Informative)

        by helioquake (841463) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:59PM (#15485042) Journal
        No, they aren't closer. It's the same as the last two encounter.

        What signifies about this particular encounter is that the small oval is thought to be intensified its strength recently (when its color changed from grey to red) and that just *might* cause a bit more interesting interaction between these two storms (when they pass by closely). It's a pure speculation based none other than intuition of scientists. Not based on a hydrodynamic simulation; just a wild ass guess on their part.

        Of course, they wouldn't say that. That'd make this whole thing, well, boring.
        • Re:Collide? (Score:2, Funny)

          by Tablizer (95088)
          What signifies about this particular encounter is that the small oval is thought to be intensified its strength recently (when its color changed from grey to red)...

          Biggest damned mood ring I've ever seen.
             
        • Re:Collide? (Score:5, Informative)

          by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@@@eircom...net> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:10AM (#15485813) Homepage Journal
          Not based on a hydrodynamic simulation; just a wild ass guess on their part.

          Fluid dynamics, particularly on such a massive scale as storms on a planet like Jupiter, is still largely a matter of wild ass "guess"timates. With good reason.

          The basic equations of fluid mechanics, the Navier-Stokes equations, are a second order, non-linear system of partial differential equations. Atmospheric gases are also compressible flows. Couple this with aerosols, rotation of the planet, and mondo awkward boundary conditions due to the surface curvature; it's lack of a crust; and the lack of a defined "end" of the atmosphere, finally sprinkling a generous dose of chaos theory in to account for sensitivity to initial conditions.... and you've got a problem that is to all intents and purposes, completely unsolvable.

          And that's "just" the fluid dynamics problem. And the continuum hypothesis isn't the only way to solve it. You could use Lagrangian mechanics if one were so inclined.

          And these are just theoretical issues. We haven't even spoken about the practical difficulties. First and foremost, throw hope for an analytic solution out the window, because it's not going to happen. You've got to go with a numerical solution. Which brings up the next question of which numerical techniques to you use, and how accurately do you use them. You've got to factor in time, cost and cpu ability. You'll have to parrallelise the whole deal, and make sure it's accurate enough to remain stable for long enough to predict but you want but quick enough so that you'll get your answer before the actual event happens.

          And last, but by no means least, once you've got that data, how do you analyse it? How do you even present it? Remember, we're talking about 3d vortices here, embedded in a globe. How do you make sense of it all. What points are of interest? What events are key? What can you learn from all this? What size font should the image titles have? How will you make a paper out of all this!?

          Faced with such an operation, you're often better off performing a simulation when faced with a fluid mechanics problem, or in the case where simulation is impossible such as with Jupiter, just make a wild assed guess, sit back and enjoy the show.
          • Re:Collide? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Orp (6583) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @08:44AM (#15486437) Homepage
            Congratuations. You've just described what I go through trying to simulate tornado-producing thunderstorms. Even the "how do I present the results" part. Something I deal with on a day to day basis. As far as presentation goes, I like raytracers to present scalar data and feature-detection software to find vortices. Throw in stereo viewing, animate the sucker and at the very least you've got some cool pictures and movies.
          • Re:Collide? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by VoidEngineer (633446) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @09:02AM (#15486526)
            I agree with you on most all accounts. What I would mention, however, is that meteorologists already do -pretty much exactly what you're describing. Weather simulations for earth effectively have to deal with everything you've just described; from chemical reactions in the atmosphere, to rotation fo the planet, to the awkward boundary conditions due to surface curvature, chaos theory, and the like. And you know what? Meteorologists will readily admit that the problem is mostly unsolvable. And furthermore, they have exactly the same numerical analysis solutions that you've described; and they have to resort to using supercomputers specifically designed to model weather simulations. If one looks at the most commonly investigated computer problems, historically, you pretty much wind up with weather, nuclear bombs, and chess.

            That being said, we enjoy a good 5 days of prediction of weather patterns nowdays. I remember when I was a kid, and the computers weren't nearly as powerful, and we only had 2 or 3 days of prediction. Now we have fairly good predictions for up to 5 to 7 days.

            Sure, initial parameters are different for Earth and Jupiter, although the problem isn't as intractable as you make it out to be. Societally, we have alot of collective experience modeling the types of problems you've described, and it would really only be a matter of modifying the initial parameters of our weather simulations to match those of Jupiter.

            Something which I, for one, expect somebody at NASA to have done already.
            • On all counts (Score:5, Insightful)

              by guet (525509) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:47AM (#15487205)
              Societally, we have alot of collective experience modeling the types of problems you've described, and it would really only be a matter of modifying the initial parameters of our weather simulations to match those of Jupiter.

              The problem being that Jupiter does not have a constellation of satellites collecting data 24/7 and a huge number of ground-stations recording weather conditions at regular intervals all round its surface.

              Without that data, what would you plug into your simulation, guesses?
              • Mod parent up... (Score:3, Informative)

                by sean.peters (568334)
                This is a very important point. We're talking about a simulation of a chaotic system. It has to be fed ground-truth data - lots of it - on a regular and frequent basis, or it will diverge rather quickly from reality. And with no weather stations, etc, on Jupiter, there's no way to gather the data.

                Sean
              • The problem being that Jupiter does not have a constellation of satellites collecting data 24/7 and a huge number of ground-stations recording weather conditions at regular intervals all round its surface.

                Surface? I think this is defined as the depth in the jovian atmosphere where the pressure is @ 1 bar...

                Jupiter is a gas giant and therefore the atmospheric conditions probably (Discl.: I am not an planetary atmospheres scientist...!) need to be known to a depth which is obscured from the view of the usual
            • Re:Collide? (Score:3, Informative)

              by jmichaelg (148257)
              Societally, we have alot of collective experience modeling the types of problems you've described, and it would really only be a matter of modifying the initial parameters of our weather simulations to match those of Jupiter.

              Codswallop.

              Hurricane forecasts on earth diverge the further out you get. None of them called the right turn Katrina pulled in the Gulf of Mexico before she first hit Florida. On 8/25/05, this was the forecast:

              This forecast is rather difficult since one of the more reliable models...t

            • There is one major difference you seem to disregard in your comparison between Earth and Jupiter. On Earth, we know most of it's topography, we know what it's core, shell, and atomosphere consist of, we know how it spins and the general dynamics of its weather (with some exceptions, of course, but for the most part). With Jupiter, we know very little about it other than what we've been able to speculate. We speculate that it's a still-born star, so we speculate it has a mass similar to that of a small star.
          • The basic equations of fluid mechanics, the Navier-Stokes equations, are a second order, non-linear system of partial differential equations.

            You can get a MEEEEELLion dollars if you make some headway on the Navier-Stokes Equations [claymath.org]. They are a superbitch. I love that these equations were described 200 years ago and we know they describe fluids better than any other representation we have dreamt up, but they are totally unworkable. It's like magic.

  • by eric_ste (446052) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:42PM (#15484985)
    And she could swallow earth.

    At 350Mph, that's what I call a massive blow job...

  • by bombadier_beetle (871107) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:43PM (#15484988)
    Clearly, this is evidence of Jovial warming.
  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by HisMother (413313) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:52PM (#15485020)
    the two biggest storms in the solar system are about to collide on Jupiter.

    Crap. There go my weekend plans.

  • by legomad (596194) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:55PM (#15485028)
    Martian looters will be shot on sight.
    • by patio11 (857072) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:08AM (#15485257)
      Why does Slashdot always accuse Martians of looting but when Earthlings do it its merely "copyright infringement"? Discrimination, that's why. Why the prejudice against the Martians? If you prick them, do they not ooze?
      • No, it's entirely justified. You see, when the Interplanetary Crime Organization was formed the duties for planet-wide disaster related crimes were divided on a per-planet basis: Martians conned us into giving them a monopoly on looting, people from Mercury and Venus pillage and those from the outer planets commit insurance fraud. Earth was a bit late to the game and now we're stuck with gratutious copyright infringement.

        In case you're wondering which planet-wide desaster allows us to infringe Earth copyr
    • Jovebeast #1: ...and so our heartbleebs go out to everyone affected in the area of storm convergence.

      Jovebeast #2: Jove Bush doesn't care about Martian people!

      --Rob

  • ahh (Score:5, Funny)

    by ezwip (974076) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:56PM (#15485034)
    Red Jr. is half-sized, able to swallow Earth merely once, but it blows just as hard as its older cousin. Ahh yes, I dated them in highschool.
    • Re:ahh (Score:1, Funny)

      by cpsc2005 (629087)
      Ahh yes, I dated them in highschool.

      Ahh, so you admit to being a pedophile (Red Spot Jr., 6 years) and a fetishist (Red Spot, >300 years.)
  • by w33t (978574) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:57PM (#15485037) Homepage
    I LOVE astronomy. I think it is simply the most profound thing that we have been able to take the eye and stretch it to points beyond imagination. To look out into the cosmos is so humbling and awe-inspiring. Truly if one science has shown us simple magnificent beauty it is astronomy.

    Now having said that I will say that only one thing makes astronomy better - seeing these object in motion! Galaxies and nebula seem so unreal in hubble's photos - it's hard to fully comprehend what exactly they are - what they are really like. But when you view those precious few object we have been able to capture in motion, to me it is exquisite! Somehow, to me, it makes them that much more real, more tangible. And that is truly the dream of the soul - to somehow touch, taste, smell that which is so beautiful :)

    I hope these astronomers string together this phenomenal convergence into a movie!

    Jupiter's storms in motion [spaceflightnow.com]
    Solar flares [nasa.gov]

    Do you have any other cool astronomical movie links?
    --
    Music should be free [w33t.com]
    • "And that is truly the dream of the soul - to somehow touch, taste, smell that which is so beautiful :)"

      You do know there are depraved geeks around here dont ya?!
    • I LOVE astronomy. I think it is simply the most profound thing that we have been able to take the eye and stretch it to points beyond imagination...

      If I was a god I think I would want to piss you off for being too poetic. I would have both spots rotate behind Jupiter as usual, and then *nothing* come about the other side when they should rotate back into view. Zilch spots and zilch hints about where they went. It would be so much fun to F with people's brains. I wouldn't physically hurt my subjects, just
  • by wtansill (576643) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:00AM (#15485048)
    is what FEMA intends to do about this?
  • by isecore (132059) <isecore@ise[ ]e.net ['cor' in gap]> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:25AM (#15485126) Homepage
    When it blows on Jupiter, better cover Uranus.
  • by darkrowan (976992) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:33AM (#15485151)
    ... that our local news source will be running around the clock coverage of 'Jupiter Storewatch 2006'
  • I don't care about weather reports for cities 500 miles away, so why should I care about weather reports for a planet 500 million miles away???

    • It is more evidence of the effect of humans on climate change and global warming... ;)
    • Flamebait? It's a joke, people!

  • Title: Huge Storms Converge on Jupiter

    Body: NASA is reporting that the two biggest storms in the solar system are about to collide on Jupiter.
    (emphasis added)

    Let's not jump the gun here... try to make subject/title lines more accurate please!
    • converge, converged, converging, converges

      1. To tend toward or approach an intersecting point: lines that converge.
      2. To come together from different directions; meet: The avenues converge at a central square.
      3. To tend toward or achieve union or a common conclusion or result: In time, our views and our efforts converged.
      4. Mathematics. To approach a limit.

      So, according to that definition, if these two storms are about to collide, they have to be converging now. So the converging is in the present, the col

  • Umm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Davus (905996) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:53AM (#15485219) Homepage
    a youngster of a storm only six years old. Compared to the Great Red Spot, Red Jr. is half-sized, able to swallow Earth merely once, but it blows just as hard as its older cousin."
    I'm not sure what intergalactic law is, but over here, we call that "statutory rape".
    • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Funny)

      by alienmole (15522) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:51AM (#15485371)
      Dude, you're on Slashdot. If you were some bimbo news anchor on MSNBC you could get away with saying intergalactic. But this isn't even interstellar! It's in our own solar system, for crying out loud. The word you want is "interplanetary". Hey, and don't thank me - I kill jokes for free.
      • ...you could get away with saying intergalactic. But this isn't even interstellar! It's in our own solar system, for crying out loud. The word you want is "interplanetary".

        You give me any of that juris-my-diction crap, and you can ram it up your ass.

      • Dude, you're on Slashdot. If you were some bimbo news anchor on MSNBC you could get away with saying intergalactic. But this isn't even interstellar! It's in our own solar system, for crying out loud. The word you want is "interplanetary".

        I blame the Beastie Boys. Who knows how many young minds were ruined by that "intergalactic planetary, planetary intergalactic" lyric?

        At this point we should just hope that nobody thinks Jupiter is in "another dimension".
      • It's in our own solar system, for crying out loud. The word you want is "interplanetary".

        Well now, that does depend on how jurisdiction is handled in the universe at large. Galactic Troopers can pull you over for exceeding warp 10 pretty much anywhere, but they refuse to hand out parking tickets in planetary systems, leaving that up to local enforcement. But, as the offence is taking place entirely on Jupiter (it's not Jupiter trying to engulf one of its own moons in some incestuous cataclysm), it wouldn't
        • That's pre-6/6/06 thinking. What you fail to take into account is that the neocons who rule Earth believe in preemptive enforcement of interplanetary law. This may be all happening on Jupiter right now, but once Big Red has eaten Little Red, we're obviously gonna be next! Pictures of these storms, along with a little vial of the same gases that make up Jupiter's atmosphere, are being shown to the U.N. Security Council at this very moment. In the interests of peace, we must declare war on Jupiter!
  • by popo (107611) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:10AM (#15485263) Homepage

    What kind of strength/magnification do you need to see Jupiter in that resolution?
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:43AM (#15485349) Homepage Journal
      What kind of strength/magnification do you need to see Jupiter in that resolution?

      You are not going to get Hubble or Voyager level views. Many amatures now digitally enhence their images such that you see more in the photo than what the eye would see in the scope. One fairly recent technique is to take hundreds of digital images and then digitally average and realign the detail. The Earth's atmosphere wiggles and sometimes acts kind of like a magnifying lens. If you can capture these magnification spots when they occure and add them up, you get a nice photo.

      Anyhow, I would guess that you need at least an 8-inch reflector or 5-inch refractor to see the two spots with recognizable detail. It also depends on sky conditions and viewer training. It takes a while to train the eye to see detail on planets thru a scope.
                   
      • Actually, summing shots is to decrease the noise in digital photos. Perturbations caused by the atmosphere blur your image, they don't enhance it.

        Summing to decrease noise is a technique that may be used in pretty much all digital signal acquisition. We do it in MRI sometimes too.
    • The answer is in the article - the photo was taken with an 11-inch telescope. If you're flush with cash, just go get one of these [opticsplanet.net] (Meade 12"), although you'll need to use it well outside of any big urban area, light pollution around cities kills viewing conditions. (You can get a similar scope for less money if you take more of a DIY approach, but then you have to learn much more about it. Scopes like Meade and Celestron are for people who just want to spend the money and get the results.)
    • There is a simple rule of thumb about magnification. It goes like this:

      If your telescope is 10inch (~ 250mm), then your maximum magnification achievable with your telescope is up to 250 times. You can increase the magnification as much as you like (by the choice of an eyepiece), but it doesn't mean a damned thing when you go beyond 250x for the 10in telescope (it's like examining a photo on a magazine with 10000x magnifying glass; i.e., it's meaningless). For a 6inch telescope (~ 150mm), the max is 150x or
  • Premature (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    The New Horizons probe will visit Jupiter early next year. If the merging waits another half year then NH could give us a nice look.

    New Horizons is heading toward Pluto, but will use Jupiter to kind of "slingshot" it faster toward Pluto. NASA doesn't want to pay for bigger rockets, so they cheat by stealing a small slice of Jupiter's orbital momentum. Let's hope Big Jup doesn't find out, because he is really really big and strong.
               
  • I can't remember the last /. article to recieve this many blow job jokes.
    • Re:WOW! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Makarakalax (658810)
      So I'm not alone in finding it sad that slashdot rarely has anything other than unfunny jokes attached to science articles?
      • Nope, you have more company.

        In fact, while on the topic of remniscising about the "old" Slashdot, let me also lament the total and complete disappearance of links to cool hacks/pet-projects done by regular folk in their spare time. Now all the Toys stories we seem to get are about, well, toys that you can buy, as opposed to those people have built (or could build). With the result that Slashdot discussions in general seem to have atrophied from being informed, to something of a worldwide whinefest on techn

  • My mind wandered off to an incest sex orgy for a moment there. :-o
  • Will there be an earth shattering kaboom?
  • Of course not, but that's a popular conspiracy around the internet (2nd etc). Odyssey 2001 featured a 2nd sun made out of Jupiter, presumably by aliens that wanted to populate Europa.

  • If they don't stop driving their cars and Airconditioning their houses, soon the storms that they created with their wrecklessness will consume the entire population of Jupiterians. - Don't blame me I voted for Kodos
  • I believe the increase in the size of storms on Jupiter is due to global warming, caused by an increased release of greenhouse gases from fuel hungry aliens driving around in their gas guzzling Sports Utility Spaceships (SUSs).
  • Compared to the Great Red Spot, Red Jr. is half-sized, able to swallow Earth merely once, but it blows just as hard as its older cousin.

    Yeah, my girlfriend had a cousin like that, too!

    Bruce

  • This has got to be the spot-on evidence we need for Global Warming. See it is all happening right there on Jupiter and is directly correlated with our warming oceans.

    Okay, maybe not. But, hey, it sounds good!

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