What did Juno Uncover on Jupiter?


What did Juno Uncover on Jupiter?

They reveal a blazing mix of reds, oranges, and yellows-cyclones swirling around each other to create an nearly artificial looking color collage near Jupiter's south pole.

The dynamics of the storms in the south and north poles of the world are mysterious, and scientists aren't sure how they formed or how they have persisted.

The Juno spacecraft, sent by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) over the solar system's gas planet Jupiter, has revealed atmospheric winds on the planet, thus completely changing the perspective of it.

"Since Jupiter is basically a giant ball of gas, the initial expectation was that there would be no asymmetries in the gravity field between the north and south", said Professor Yohai Kaspi from The Weizmann Institute in Israel and lead author of the research paper recently submitted to Nature. Gravity measurements collected by Juno during its close flybys of the planet have now provided an answer.

The agency provided that statement, along with some stunning new imagery of the planet, as part of a treasure trove of new findings gathered by the Juno spacecraft. "Until now, we only had a superficial understanding of them and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter's jets. It's like going from a 2-D picture to a 3-D version in high definition".

"The result is a surprise because this indicates that the atmosphere of Jupiter is massive and extends much deeper than we previously expected", Mr. Kaspi said in an email. These weather systems churn down to a depth of 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers), and this layer contains a huge amount of stuff - accounting for approximately 1 percent of the mass of the entire planet. It is also estimated that the hectic and heavy atmosphere of Jupiter occupies about 1% of the total mass of the planet, occupying a much larger portion of Jupiter than astronomers have so far believed (Earth's atmosphere occupies only one millionth of its mass ).

Another of the studies in this week's Nature finds that Jupiter's crisscrossing east-west jet streams actually penetrate thousands of kilometres beneath the visible cloud tops. Like a compact series of cogs in an unimaginably large machine, vast cyclones also swirl around the north and south poles, clocking wind speeds of over 220 miles per hour (350 kilometers per hour) - wind speeds that are the equivalent of a terrestrial Category 5 hurricane. The surrounding cyclones range in diameter from 4,000 to 4,600 kilometers across.

The poles of Jupiter are an absolute contrast to the more familiar white and orange belts and zones that circle the gas giant at lower latitudes. Launched in 2011, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 and peering beneath the thick ammonia clouds.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The image was taken by Juno spacecraft's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper instrument.