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IAU provides opportunity to common people for naming Jupiter’s moons

The largest planet of our solar system, Jupiter has five moons with new name suggestions which are Pandia, Ersa, Eirene, Philophrosyne and Eupheme.

The names were suggested by children who participated in the contest run by Carnegie Institution for Science approved by the International Astronomical Union. Previously the IAU assigned a temporary name to newly found objects before assigning a permanent name but however recently the public has been given a chance to come up with few names for alien stars, planets and craters on Mercury.

The participants at the Jovian contest had to come up with names that were within the character limit and also matched the direction of the moon’s orbit, affecting the final letter of the name.

Carnegie astronomer Scott Sheppard said in a statement that there are many rules for naming moons. Sheppard led the discovery of the 12 moons of Jupiter of which naming of 5 was included in the contest. Jovian naming conventions requires moons to be named after characters from Greek and Roman mythologies who were descendants or consorts of Zeus or Jupiter.

Pandia (previously S/2017 J4) is named after the daughter of Zeus and the moon goddess Selene. Out of many applications, the name got the most attention was from Emma Hugo, representing astronomy club of the Lanivet School in Cornwall, U.K. The institute tweeted a photo of astronomy club with the Pandia sign and school mascot, panda in honor to the role village played in supplying bamboo to London Zoo.

Ersa (previously S/2018 J1) is named after the sister of Pandia, who was another daughter of Zeus and Selene. More than 20 tweets suggested this name but the contribution was credited to Aaron Quah, space news aggregator who sent the suggestion first and Walter, a 4-year-old who sang a song on Ersa.

Eirene (previously S/2003 J5) is recognized as the goddess of peace and is the daughter of Zeus and Themis. Around 16 tweets suggested this name, however, the first tweet came from a user named Quadrupoltensor and a 10-year-old guy who enjoys Greek and Roman Mythology.

Philophrosyne (previously S/2003 J15) is named after the spirit of welcome and kindness, who is the granddaughter of Zeus. Several participants were highlighted including a space fan Lunartic who posted a YouTube video about his suggestions and also suggested a new name for S/2003 J3, Eupheme. It recognizes the spirit of praise and good omen who was the granddaughter of Zeus and sister of Philophrosyne.

jupiter great red spot

Jupiter’s Great Red Storm is now shrinking

A massive red high-pressure storm that is Jupiter’s mysterious red storm which has lasted for hundreds of years, is now slowly changing its shape, size and colour. Astronomer Donna Pierce from Mississippi State University explains why this has been happening.

The red storm:
The Red Storm/ Spot is a high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclone-like storm. Being the largest in the Solar System, almost 22 degrees south of the planet’s equator, it has been continuously observed since 1830.

The Great Red Spot, a storm sized way larger than the Earth and compelling enough to tear apart smaller storms that get drawn into it, is one of the most substantial features in Jupiter’s atmosphere and the entire solar system.

Many questions about the Great Red Spot still remain unanswered, including exactly when and how was it formed, what gives it its striking bright red colour and why it has persisted for so much longer than other storms that have been observed in the atmosphere of Jupiter and the solar system.

Unlike Jupiter, planet Earth also has land masses that cause major storms to lose energy due to friction with a solid surface. Without this feature, Jupiter’s storms are evidently more long-lasting. The Great Red Spot is however long-lived, even by Jupiter standards. Researchers don’t quite understand the reason behind this, but we do know that Jupiter’s storms that are located in cloud bands with the same direction of rotation tend to be longer lasting.

Bands and Zones:
These colorful bands, called as belts (dark bands) and zones (light bands), run parallel to Jupiter’s equator. Researchers aren’t quite sure what is the main cause of the change in colour of the bands and zones, but differences in their chemical composition, temperature and transparency and quality of the atmosphere have all been suggested as contributing factors. These bands are also counter-rotating, meaning that they move in opposite directions with respect to their neighbor’s. The boundaries between the bands and zones are being marked by strong winds called zonal jets.

Similar to the Great Red Spot, these bands have undergone a slight change in latitude over time during which they have been observed. Researchers don’t entirely understand the banded structure of the equator, but we certainly do possess evidence suggesting that the light coloured zones are regions of rising hot material, and the dark belts are regions of heavy harmful material sinking into the atmosphere.

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is changing dramatically and hence there is a change in its size, shape, and colour. In-Depth research and analysis of historical and recently obtained data on the Great Red Spot has shown that it is shrinking and becoming both rounder and taller, and its colour has also varied over time. What is driving these changes, and what do they mean for the future of the Great Red Spot and what will come out of it? Researchers cannot come to a valid conclusion yet.

However, NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently orbiting Jupiter, is gathering more data on the cloud bands and the Great Red Spot.