Cyclones churning over Jupiter's poles captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft

Randolph Lopez
March 9, 2018

These are just some of the latest findings by four worldwide research teams, based on observations by NASA's Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter.

Previously there have been extensive studies of the helium-and-hydrogen planet's surface, but now gravity measurements collected by Juno indicate that this turbulent outer layer extends to a depth of 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers). Since then it's been orbiting the planet, taking pictures and measuring the planet's profile in infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, gravity and magnetism-and answering questions scientists have had about Jupiter for decades.

NASA hopes the Juno mission helps provide a better understanding of Jupiter's origin, core mass and interior structure.

Other Juno science results released today include that the massive cyclones that surround Jupiter's north and south poles are enduring atmospheric features and unlike anything else encountered in our solar system.

What lies at the center of Jupiter is also a mystery and these new findings suggest that, below the extremely dense weather layer, the gas planet rotates as a near-rigid body.

Fresh images of the giant gas planet have found clusters of cyclones over its north and south poles. The deeper the jet streams on the planet, the more mass they contain and cause a stronger signal expressed in the gravity fields. Using this data, the researchers determined that the wind belts - these stripes observed by Galileo - extend 3,000 km deep.

Another Juno result released today suggests that beneath the weather layer, the planet rotates almost as a rigid body.

The lead author of a Nature paper on Jupiter's deep weather layer Yohai Kaspi talked about Jupiter's extended jets.

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On July 4, 2016, the Juno spacecraft finally reached the planet's orbit.

The stunning Jupiter cyclone storms image captured by NASA Juno probe can be enjoyed at the beginning of this article. As NASA explains, the jet streams that create the eye-catching patterns originate far below what we are able to see from its cloud tops, and the cyclones are unlike anything observed before in the Solar System, including here on Earth. These atmospheric winds last longer than similar atmospheric processes found on Earth.

An illustration depicting the United States space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. "The remarkable thing about this", says Dr. Galanti, "is that we were able to directly measure the signature of the flows themselves". Part of the scientific data sent back recently has to do with massive cyclones that surround the north and south poles of Jupiter.

Morgan O'Neill, co-author of the cyclone paper and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago, said: "They are extraordinarily stable arrangements of such chaotic elements". However, as tightly spaced as the cyclones are, they have remained distinct, with individual morphologies over the seven months of observations detailed in the paper.

The $1 billion Juno mission, which NASA launched in 2011, is expected to continue to reveal more of Jupiter's secrets.

"Each one of the northern cyclones is nearly as wide as the distance between Naples, Italy and New York City - and the southern ones are even larger than that". At the north pole, eight swirling storms circled another storm at the center, and at the south pole, another five storms encircle a central vortex.

Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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