Jupiter Cloud Tops, NASA
NASA does a lot of snooping around the Solar System. And it keeps finding water anomalies everywhere it snoops. The Juno mission to Jupiter is par for the course. Juno has discovered a lot of water in the Jovian atmosphere, an average of .25 percent where Juno has looked. (Earth averages four percent water vapor in its atmosphere). A lot of the water on Jupiter is at very high altitudes; its puzzling. The variable concentration of the water/water vapor/hydroxyl signature at these high altitudes is equally puzzling. So are the flashes of light, what NASA calls ‘shallow lightning.’
NASA has an explanation for it all and you can read about here – ‘Shallow Lightning’ and ‘Mushballs’ Reveal Ammonia to NASA’s Juno Scientists – let me spoil the surprise. The dense water/water vapor signature in Juno’s images is ‘hiding’ the ammonia which Juno can’t image, because it isn’t there, but it has to be there, because that is the only way water can be there, because ammonia is like antifreeze, get it? The water is hiding the ammonia and that is how we know ammonia is there. The NASA story link has lots of cool drawings and dramatizations to help you understand. The ammonia/water mushballs are postulated as hail in ferocious thunderstorms clouds; that’s NASA’s explanation after observing very dense water/water vapor clouds at inexplicably high altitudes.
Professor Louis A. Frank’s small comets, discovered forty years ago, are a much simpler explanation. Frank calculated five-hundred small comets would enter Jupiter’s atmosphere every second, that’s 15,768,000,000 a year, (Earth-year). Frank was troubled by how much heat that many small comets would generate, but discovered Jupiter was emitting more heat than we can explain. If some readers are unfamiliar with Frank’s discovery of the small comets, here are links to Frank’s book, Cosmic Rain and the University of Iowa small comets website. The flashes of light that NASA assumes are lightning are likely small comets. That is where Ernst Öpik comes in.
Ernst Öpik spent much of his adult life looking up at the night sky. The Estonian astrophysicist constructed his, Tables of Meteor Luminosities in the 1920s. Included in his tables are the faint meteors. These faint meteors are Öpik’s Dustballs, faint meteors which glow brightly (luminosity similar to Venus) for about two seconds and then abruptly snuff out like a candle. The only hypothesis Öpik offered was the faint meteors were dust, although he had no explanation for how they were held together. There are lots of faint meteors entering earth’s atmosphere annually – on the order of one million to ten million, right in line with Louis Frank’s observation of ‘atmospheric holes.’ Frank’s small, almost pure, snowy water comets are the glue that holds Öpik’s Dustballs together. Öpik’s Dustballs are seen at nighttime, Frank’s atmospheric holes are seen in Earth’s ultraviolet daytime; the dayglow. If the faint meteors were dustballs they would leave an observable light-wake when entering the atmosphere. Almost all of these, faint, non-shower, sporadic, meteors showed no statistically significant wake according to Professor Robert Hawkes, Mount Allison University, and the other authors of the paper, Are Meteoroids Really Dustballs? Frank thought this class of faint meteors, Öpik’s Dustballs, were small comets. Perhaps NASA’s Jovian mushballs, with their flashes of light, are also Frank’s small comets.
Ganymeade, Jupiter’s largest moon, is slightly larger than Mercury. Beneath its water-ice crust is apparently a salt water ocean so deep it contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined. Since 2018 we have known there is water vapor in Ganymeade’s atmosphere. I find NASA’s conclusion, “it must be sublimating from the water-ice surface” weak tea. Another thing, it is not trace amounts of water vapor.
Ganymeade water vapor concentrations, NASA
And another thing, the daytime surface temperature on Ganymeade ranges between -290°and -170° Fahrenheit. Receiving less than four percent of the solar energy Earth does, it seems far-fetched to imagine sublimination is putting that much water vapor into Ganymeade’s atmosphere. Jupiter’s outsized gravitational field may increase the number of small comets that infall into Ganymeade’s atmosphere. Jupiter’s gravitational field is very strong. There’s compelling evidence the sunspot cycle (eleven years) and Jupiter’s orbit (11.9 years) are not just a coincidence. Gravity is related to mass – and 1300 earths will fit inside the volume of Jupiter. Juno and the European Space Agency’s, (ESA) JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer), which will arrive in 2029, will undoubtedly be able to give more and better data. So with time, don’t be surprised if the known water vapor quantities in Ganymeade’s atmosphere make sublimation an increasingly unlikely source.
Small comets are, for the time being, an unacceptable answer to any question in Space Physics. Someday that will change. The circumstantial evidence for Frank’s small comets continues to grow. Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence that does not, on its face, prove a fact at issue but gives rise to a logical inference that the fact exists. Establishment science might be too timorous to look seriously at all this new evidence, but we are getting to the place where a jury of laymen wouldn’t hesitate to render a verdict: Louis A. Frank and his collaborators discovered the small comets and that forces us to change the way we think about the Solar System, the Earth, its past, its present, and its future.