Juno Spacecraft: Raging Cyclones and Jet Streams on Jupiter Perplex Scientists (Download PDF)


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NASA’s Juno spacecraft is continuing to deliver new information about Jupiter. What are the New Findings about Jupiter? - The gas giant’s atmospheric winds are nothing like the atmospheric winds of Earth, the latest findings show. They run deeper into the atmosphere and have longer lifespans than anything on this planet.

Image of NASA’s Juno spacecraft

Image of NASA’s Juno Spacecraft

Image of NASA’s Juno spacecraft

  • These astonishing science results are yet another example of Jupiter’s curve balls, and a testimony to the value of exploring the unknown from a new perspective with next-generation instruments

  • Fast moving jet streams—narrow, variable bands of very strong wind—circle the planet constantly. These jet streams share some qualities with the ones we experience on Earth, the type that help planes break speed records, except they are 100 to 1, 000 times stronger.

  • While most of the planet is surrounded by constantly changing wind, wind systems near the poles appears to be more stable—if no less violent.

  • The North Pole is dominated by a central cyclone surrounded by eight circumpolar cyclones with diameters ranging from 2, 500 to 2, 900 miles (4, 000 to 4, 600 kilometers).

  • The South Pole also has a central cyclone and it is surrounded by five cyclones with diameters ranging from 3, 500 to 4, 300 miles (5, 600 to 7, 000 kilometers) in diameter. These storms are arranged similarly to the mysterious north polar hexagon of storms on Saturn.

  • These cyclones is how tightly packed they are into Jupiter’s poles. They brush up right against each other and their spiral arms have even been shown to touch. Yet they never seem to merge

  • Jupiter’s magnetic fields to its fierce winds are even larger than realized.

Stripes on Jupiter?

  • Galileo viewed the stripes on Jupiter more than 400 years ago, till now scientists had a superficial understanding of stripes and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter’s jets. Now, following the Juno gravity measurements, the scientist are able to know how deep the jets extend and what is their structure beneath the visible clouds.

  • It is like going from a 2-D picture to a 3-D version in high definition.

  • Only on its 10th flyby of the planet, Juno has shown that jet streams run from the very top of Jupiter’s clouds to a depth of 1, 900 miles (3, 000 kilometers)

What is JUNO?

  • Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.

  • Built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

  • Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011 and entered a polar orbit of Jupiter on July 5, 2016 to begin a scientific investigation of the planet.

  • After completing its mission, Juno will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

  • Juno’s unique orbit and evolutionary high-precision radio science and infrared technologies enabled these paradigm-shifting discoveries.

  • Juno’s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.

  • It would also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds up to 618 kilometers per hour

  • Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003

Names of Scientists Involved with Juno

  • Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno

  • Yohai Kaspi, Juno co-investigator and lead author of a new paper in Nature.

  • Alberto Adriani, Juno co-investigator.

Key Facts

  • Only on its 10th flyby of the planet, Juno has shown that jet streams run from the very top of Jupiter’s clouds to a depth of 1, 900 miles (3, 000 kilometers).
  • The spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) proved especially useful in the most recent flyby.
  • Juno’s 11th science pass will be on April 1
Image of Juno's interplanetary trajectory

Image of Juno’s Interplanetary Trajectory

Image of Juno’s interplanetary trajectory

- Published/Last Modified on: July 24, 2018

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