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Juno Probe's Jupiter Exploration Reveals Details About Planet

Image: Juno Probe's Jupiter Exploration Reveals Details About Planet

This image made available by NASA on Thursday, May 25, 2017, and made from data captured by the Juno spacecraft shows Jupiter's south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles)

By    |   Friday, 26 May 2017 08:41 AM

The Juno probe continued its close encounter with Jupiter, revealing large cyclones near Jupiter's poles and how the planet's strong auroras are different from Earth's northern and southern lights.

The spacecraft has been using eight instruments to examine the composition of Jupiter and its interior structure, along with its gravitational and magnetic fields since its arrival on July 4, 2016, Space.com reported.

"What we've learned so far is earth-shattering, or should I say, Jupiter-shattering," Southwest Research Institute's Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator said in a statement. "Discoveries about its core, composition, magnetosphere, and poles are as stunning as the photographs the mission is generating."

Researchers learned that Jupiter's signature bands disappear near its poles, revealing a scene of swirling storms up to the size of Mars towering above a bluish backdrop, according to the Southwest Research Institute statement.

Juno's microwave sounding instrument found that Jupiter's topical weather phenomena extend deep below the cloud tops, to pressures of 100 bars, 100 times Earth's air pressure at sea level, noted the statement.

"However, there's a north-south asymmetry," Bolton said in the statement. "… We've observed a narrow ammonia-rich plume at the equator. It resembles a deeper, wider version of the air currents that rise from Earth's equator and generate the trade winds."

According to a study about Juno's recent work that was published this week in the journal Science, the spacecraft's energetic particle and plasma detectors measured electrons precipitating in the polar regions.

"Juno transited beneath the most intense parts of the radiation belts, passed about 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) above the cloud tops at closest approach, well inside the jovian rings, and recorded the electrical signatures of high-velocity impacts with small particles as it traversed the equator," noted the Space study's abstract.

Jack Connerney, Juno's deputy principal investigator and the lead for the mission's magnetic field investigation at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that the spacecraft is giving scientists an entirely new view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter.

"Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others," Connerney said in the NASA statement. "This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works."

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The Juno probe continued its close encounter with Jupiter, revealing large cyclones near Jupiter's poles and how the planet's strong auroras are different from Earth's northern and southern lights.
juno, probe, jupiter, planet
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2017-41-26
Friday, 26 May 2017 08:41 AM
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