NASA’s Juno spacecraft has gathered not only fascinating information about Jupiter, it has taken some of the most mesmerizing close-up images of Jupiter. Everything we thought we knew about Jupiter has just changed.
This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to have your mind-blown. NASA has revealed new images which literally introduce us to Jupiter, AGAIN. NASA’s Juno spacecraft has just SHATTERED everything we knew about Jupiter.
The $1.1 billion spacecraft has captured DRAMATIC first close-up images of the gas giant, reintroducing us to Jupiter, and proving we still have a lot to learn.
“We knew, going in, that Jupiter would throw us some curves,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
“There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter.”
This sequence of enhanced-color images shows how quickly the viewing geometry changes for NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter.
The images were snapped by the JunoCam.
Once every 53 days, NASA’s $1.1 billion spacecraft swings close to the Gas Giant, passing over its clouds. Image Credit: NASA.
As reported by NASA, results from the JUNO mission show that the largest planet in our solar system is a complex, gigantic and turbulent world. It has Earth-sized polar cyclones, it features storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the planet, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that experts say was generated closer to the planet’s surface than previously thought.
“We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating,” said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“It was a long trip to get to Jupiter, but these first results already demonstrate it was well worth the journey.”
J.E.P. Connerney et al., Science (2017)
As noted by Scott Bolton the new discoveries found by Juno will force us to rethink not only how Jupiter works, but how do we explore Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Jupiter is full of surprises.
The first ever view of Jupiter’s tenuous rings, looking from the inside out. Captured by Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit SRU-1, watchers will note the Belt of Orion asterism (lower right) and the bright star Betelgeuse (just above the ring).
NASA / MSSS / Caltech / SwRI
Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which samples the thermal microwave radiation from Jupiter’s atmosphere has found that Jupiter’s iconic ‘belts’ and zones are far more mysterious than we’d ever thought, with Jupiter’s belts around the equator penetrating all the way down, while the belts and zones on other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures.
An image of the North polar region of Jupiter. Photograph: MSSS/SwRI/JPL-Caltech/NASA
Jupiter’s Magnetic Field
While experts knew Jupiter’s magnetic field was really INTENSE, they had no idea how much.
New data provided by Juno has shown experts that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected and more irregular in shape. MAG data indicates the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss, about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth, notes a statement by NASA.
“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and the lead for the mission’s magnetic field investigation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
A swirling white spot captured by Juno on February 2nd.
NASA / MSSS / JPL / SwRI / Bjorn Jonsson
“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others. 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.”