Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Space Science

Does Jupiter Have More Water Than NASA's Galileo Detected? 51

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hydrogen-cooled-smoothie-please dept.
astroengine writes "Launched in August of last year, NASA's Juno probe is on a Kamikaze mission to go prospecting for water on Jupiter. Although its predecessor, NASA's Galileo spacecraft, took a death-dive into the gas giant it didn't detect any signs of water in its atmosphere. Why? Fran Bagenela, of the University of Colorado, told a group of scientists at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Anchorage, Alaska, that the Galileo probe fell at the boundary between one of the brown atmospheric zones and white belts that form a striped pattern across the planet's face. This gap region could have been unusually dry, she added. Now it's up to Juno to investigate when it enters orbit around Jupiter in 2016."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Does Jupiter Have More Water Than NASA's Galileo Detected?

Comments Filter:
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday June 25, 2012 @07:53PM (#40446711) Journal

    Could take a while (and more than two probes) to explore it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      More than that, it is a gas giant. I can't imagine there being much water there that could be easily gotten even if it did exist. I would think that the moons would be a much more interesting and useful place to probe.

      • Exactly! By harvesting water from Jupiter's rings and moons, a spacecraft would have enough propellant for long term stays, assuming the anti-NERVA folk don't shut it down.
        • Down with NERVA!

          Nobody expects the New England Region Volleyball Association!

        • by Dr Fro (169927)

          See "The Martian Way" by Isaac Asimov"

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Thank you for posting that! I was going to, but couldn't remember the name of the story. For those who may not have read it, Martians (decended from people who immigrated from Earth) need water, and Earth's dumb politicians won't let them have some (Asimov goes into the political details iirc) so they go to Saturn to harvest its rings.

            Of course, anybody who's at slashdot who hasn't read Asimov, WHY NOT???

      • Re:It's a big planet (Score:4, Informative)

        by Aglassis (10161) on Monday June 25, 2012 @10:58PM (#40448169)

        Actually it should have lots of water because it is a gas giant. Jupiter is past the Frost Line [wikipedia.org]. This means that water can form ice crystals past this point. Inside the Frost Line, the solar wind and radiation pressure force gaseous water out. This is one of the reasons that the inner planets have so little water. Outside, ice crystals can accumulate. This is probably what allowed the gas giants to rapidly accumulate mass before the Sun blew its nebula out of the Solar System. In fact, the planets Uranus and Neptune are commonly referred to as "ice giants" due to the significant amount of water they contain.

        To summarize, Jupiter should have a lot of water.

      • by osu-neko (2604)

        More than that, it is a gas giant. I can't imagine there being much water there that could be easily gotten even if it did exist. I would think that the moons would be a much more interesting and useful place to probe.

        Um... what? TFA:

        The spacecraft will focus on exploring the inner workings of Jupiter. "We're sending Juno out there to try to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, ... to explain how much water there is, what it's like inside, what the atmosphere is like," Fran Bagenela of the University of Colorado told a group of scientists at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Anchorage, Alaska.

        Looking for water on Jupiter's moons will not in any way answer the question of how wet is Jupiter. Considering we don't know if they formed in the same place and out of the same material or not, it'd actually be a pretty useless place to probe. Might be interesting in and of itself, but not very useful for answering the question.

  • Not an entry probe (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Monday June 25, 2012 @07:54PM (#40446715)

    Just because I know that some will be confused by the summary, Juno is purely an orbiter. It doesn't have an entry probe. So, it can look for water, but it is has to do it from orbit.

  • Jupiter has water (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neonv (803374) on Monday June 25, 2012 @08:00PM (#40446785)

    We saw the comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 [wikipedia.org] hit Jupiter in 1994. Being such a gravity giant, it's likely to have been hit by many comets. Since comets are full of water, there's no question about water present on Jupiter. The problem is the large size, gravitational pull, pressure, extreme weather, regular asteroid impacts, and, I can't stress this enough, it's a big ball of gas. I'm as interested in Jupiter as any nerd, but it's not as likely a source of life as other places in the solar system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm as interested in Jupiter as any nerd, but it's not as likely a source of life as other places in the solar system.

      Or our concept of life is too limited. Arther C. Clarke in "2010" [wikipedia.org] had an interesting concept of what life would be like on Jupiter.

      If your concept of life in other parts of the Universe is bacteria and fellow bald monkeys, then you will never find it. Or to put in another way, having a concept of alien life based upon Hollywood Sci-Fi - like that crap Star Trek - will have you horribly disappointed for all eternity.

      • If your concept of life in other parts of the Universe is bacteria and fellow bald monkeys, then you will never find it. Or to put in another way, having a concept of alien life based upon Hollywood Sci-Fi - like that crap Star Trek - will have you horribly disappointed for all eternity.

        Wow - you call Hollywood "crap", and then you cite 2010?

        • by rossdee (243626)

          I think he is citing the book 2010, rather than the crappy movie adaptation.

          Its likely that Jupiter has a lot of H20, but it may not be liquid.

      • by Tarlus (1000874) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @01:20AM (#40449115)

        Reminds me of a book I liked to read as a child, the National Geographic Picture Atlas of our Universe. It had some speculative artwork and descriptions of what life on all of the planets in the solar system would be like. (Including Pluto; I miss those days.)

        Their depiction of life on Jupiter [blogspot.com] included gigantic blimp-like creatures and flying, dart-like predators that would cause them to burst.

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        Another interesting view of what kind of life might dwell in a gas giant is found in The Algebraist [wikipedia.org]. Though there are some significant issues with the story (namely that the supposed plot line ends up being almost totally irrelevant by the end, and several other sub-plots fizzle into nothing without so much as a lampshade), the depiction of life within a gas giant is one of the more compelling elements.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        If you do a little astrobiology, it becomes clear that life will most likely be more similar (Carbon based) than dissimilar (hypothetical Silicon based for example). The simple fact is that carbon is just a lot easier to manipulate and is more stable in many different forms that anything else by a really large margin. The next fact is that you are going to find carbon where ever you find silicon or anything else for that matter. Finally water is a really hard solvent to beat. There just really are not that
    • by icebike (68054) *

      it's a big ball of gas. I'm as interested in Jupiter as any nerd, but it's not as likely a source of life as other places in the solar system.

      Still its Our Ball of Gas, (until some one/thing capable of stating otherwise shows up), and it would be pretty cool to go looking.

      Is the atmosphere such that some sort of balloon with a payload could not float around in it for a considerable time scavenging energy from the winds themselves?
      I've read [nasa.gov] where the wind speeds are horrendously fast, but that might not affect something designed specifically to float in the atmosphere.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Is the atmosphere such that some sort of balloon with a payload could not float around in it for a considerable time scavenging energy from the winds themselves?

        It might be possible with a tether system dipping down into a different layer of atmosphere, but really, you'd hope that there's not enough wind energy around your vehicle to generate power. That's because you wouldn't need much more than that to tear the vehicle apart.

        From my experience with high altitude weather balloons, there really isn't much local wind energy to exploit near a balloon. Sometimes you can get banged around by crossing boundaries or "shear layers" where wind direction and speed abrupt

      • Well, we could always sell it to the Mizzarett as a [spoiler deleted] [e-reading.org.ua]
    • by Bill Currie (487)

      Let's see, life as we know it needs...
      carbon... check. methane.
      nitrogen... check. amonia.
      hydrogen... check. comes bundled with the carbon and nitrogen.
      water... hmm, well, that's what juno is looking for
      energy... check. It's Jupter we're talking about :) Second most energetic object in the solar system.
      various metalic elements... hmm, this could be tricky

      At 4 out of 6, and I'd be surprised if the other two weren't there somewhere, I'd say Jupiter has a very good chance of harboring life. The level of complex

      • Re:Jupiter has water (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mbone (558574) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:04PM (#40447363)

        I think that the 50 years of space exploration shows that we are most interested in life that is somewhat like us, in settings we can understand. Bacteria on Mars ? Fish on Europa ? Yes, launch the spacecraft! Floating life at 40 km altitude on Venus or in the clouds of Jupiter or Saturn ? Not so much. And, yet, the atmospheres of both Venus and Jupiter show signs of being out of chemical equilibria, the essential signature of a biological system.

        People need to understand how slowly we are exploring the solar system. Yes, substantial progress is being made, but it is taking a long time to settle even the most basic questions. Ones that are rated secondary (such as life on Jupiter) could take a century or more to address.

      • by arisvega (1414195)

        Let's see, life as we know it needs...

        Life, as we know it, does NOT prefer its Carbon in methane form, and its Hydrogen and Nitrogen in ammonia and hydrazine form. It also doesn't appreciate being baked in a superheated high-pressure poison soup.

        Water, which is the ONE thing life-as-we-know-it needs, is still "in trouble" in Jupiter.

        Energy? Yes. The Sun has lots of it, but I don't see any monkeys on it. Reason? It is too much, as it might be on Jupiter. Also no bananas.

        Anyway, the key to energy is not only to get the right amount, but in the ri

    • Re:Jupiter has water (Score:4, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday June 25, 2012 @09:08PM (#40447403)
      The sun and all the planets are made of the same stuff. http://thesurfaceofthesun.com/ [thesurfaceofthesun.com] The gas giants all have rocky cores.
      • That's a bit of an overstatement. Early in the solar system's evolution after the sun ignited but before the planets formed, the sun's heat and intense solar wind caused significant differentiation in which elements were located where in the solar system. Most of the light stuff was driven out, which goes a long way to explaining why the inner planets and other bodies are primarily rocky, and the outer ones primarily gassy and icy.
        • by arisvega (1414195)

          Early in the solar system's evolution after the sun ignited but before the planets formed

          That's not necessarily true: last time I checked, whether tha Sun ignited before planets 'formed' is still an open question-- one that also affects the 'iceline' notion.

    • by awrowe (1110817)

      it's a big ball of gas.

      It's worth pointing out that even though it is called a "gas giant", it doesn't mean it is bereft of a rocky core. It in fact does have a rocky core [wikipedia.org] which is suspected of being icier [sciencedaily.com] than previously thought.

      In addition, given the densities and temperatures to be found there, people generally assume there can't possibly be any life there. I don't know either way, but I would suspect there is a point within the atmosphere where heat and pressure reach some sort of "sweet spot" which allows bacteria to exist,

    • by NH4HS (2670883)
      Yep, Jupiter has water, no doubt -- in its atmosphere. Juno is outfitted to find out the abundance of water in the atmosphere as a proxy for oxygen. They're not looking for water in relation to life. The oxygen abundance is a huge blank line in Jupiter's ingredient list. (Kind of embarrassing since it's the third most abundant element in the universe.) The Galileo atmospheric probe (1995) is presumed to have dropped into a dry area, and it didn't get a good measurement of water; Juno's going to make the mea
  • I know the misspelling is in TFA, but the scientist quoted is Fran Bagenal, not Fran Bagenela.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Truly one of the most important and pressing questions of the century!

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      APSWire - Thunder Bay, Ontario

      Canadian scientists are building a probe to detect ethyl alcohol on Jupiter for launch in 2013. The equpment is being assembled in special booze-free "sobriety rooms", with secure booze-locks on the entrances. "Life as we drunken canucks know it would be imposible without this vital hydroxyl of a saturated ethane", said project lead Liam McKenzie

  • by theendlessnow (516149) * on Monday June 25, 2012 @11:54PM (#40448557)

    No. There is nothing to see here.

    Sincerely,
    The Monolith

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Attempt no landing there.

      Seriously.
      I mean it.
      Guys, seriously.
      Stop it.
      GUYS!..

      DAMNIT HUMANS! *sounds of oil drilling in the background*

  • We should be careful sending probes into Jupiter, you might upset the the black monolith and then we can't have a binary star system

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

Working...