Cyclones churn over Jupiter’s poles

Taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, this image highlights a swirling storm just south of one of the white oval cyclones on Jupiter.

Observations and data captured during the flybys have revealed Jupiter’s previously unseen poles and the bright ovals at its poles have been shown to be very big cyclones spanning 870 miles.

“I love the way Jupiter’s poles look in our images-so attractive and so very different from Saturn”, says Candy Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft skimmed the upper wisps of Jupiter’s atmosphere when it this image on February 2, 2017, from about 9,000 miles above the giant planet’s swirling cloud tops.

Now, in two papers in the journal Science and 44 in Geophysical Research Letters, the data from the first passes has been analyzed and published. The central equatorial band of weather dives deep into the atmosphere, as far down as we can see, and the atmosphere creates its own soundtrack.

“We’re getting the first really close up and personal look at Jupiter and we’re seeing that a lot of our ideas were incorrect and maybe naive”, said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

The largest individual cyclone has a diameter of around 870 miles.

It was known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in our solar system, but measurements taken from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG), indicate it could be even more powerful than originally thought.

On the next flyby July 11, Juno will fly over Jupiter’s most famous feature, indeed, one of “the” wonders of the entire Solar System: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

NASA is learning some of the secrets of the largest planet in the solar system, revealing data Thursday from the space agency’s Juno mission to Jupiter.

Currently, Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter and is planned to transmit more new photos and data 588 million km away from Earth.

With Juno’s orbits passing nearly directly over the north and south poles, scientists can better study the powerful auroras, which are generated by charged particles traveling along Jupiter’s magnetic field and colliding with molecules in the atmosphere.

The Juno spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011, and entered Jupiter’s orbit last summer on July 4.

The armoured Juno spacecraft has transmitted science data back to NASA after flying past the planet last summer – and it’s thrown up new mysteries about the huge planet.

Jack Connerney of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said there was “dramatic variation” in the planet’s magnetic field, with some fields stronger than expected and others weaker.

The far-flung planet has been on scientists’ radar for hundreds of years-Galileo Galilei made the first detailed observations of the planet and its satellites all the way back in 1610.

Just when we thought we had Jupiter all figured out, NASA’s Juno spacecraft reveals new results that challenge nearly every assumption we’ve made about the gas giant.

Juno also has detected an overwhelming abundance of ammonia deep down in Jupiter’s atmosphere, and a surprisingly strong magnetic field in places – roughly 10 times greater than Earth’s. The closer you are to the dynamo, the more variable the field becomes.

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