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NASA's Juno Mission reveals Jupiter's deep secrets

May 27, 2017 10:03 IST

The first science results from Nasa's Juno Mission were revealed on 25 May 2017 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Juno captured the images which portray Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant.

 

Juno Mission reveals Jupiter's deep secrets

The Findings
The images show that both of Jupiter's poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together.

Another finding came from Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) data which indicates that Jupiter’s iconic belts and zones are mysterious as the belt near the equator is penetrating all the way down, while the belts and zones at other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures.

The MWR data also suggests that the ammonia is quite variable and continues to increase as far down as we can see with MWR, which is a few hundred miles or kilometres.

Measurements of the Jupiter's magnetosphere from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than expected, and more irregular in shape.

MAG data also indicates that the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss, about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.

Juno’s initial observations of  Jupiter's powerful auroras, that is its northern and southern lights, indicate that the process seems to work differently at Jupiter than at Earth.

These early results will help NASA scientists to better understand Jupiter.

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How was Juno able to capture the images of Jupiter?
Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, and the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant.

But, once in every 53 days, its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a two-hour transit with its eight science instruments that collect data and its JunoCam snap the pictures.

The download of six megabytes of data collected during the transit took around 1.5 days.

Background

Juno was launched on 5 August 2011. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for NASA. The principal investigator of the mission is Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Juno is taking longer to complete its mission than originally planned because of a glitch with two engine valves that has kept it looping around Jupiter every 53 days. The spacecraft has completed 5 of 32 planned science fly-bys and the next one will occur on 11 July 2017 where it will be over Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

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