Jupiter, the largest and possibly even the oldest planet in our solar system is revealing stunning information about itself in a series of new photos, all with some help from the Juno spacecraft.
Deployed by NASA in 2011, this entered the massive planet’s orbit on July 4, 2016. Ever since then, it has been orbiting and recording data on Jupiter. Every 53 days, the spacecraft carries out a flyby that takes it as close as 2,600 miles of the planet’s top cloud layer. Presently, the probe successfully conducted five such flybys, and the data collected is at the base of two new studies.
Juno Helped Bring New, Unbelievable Data About Jupiter and its System
Images captured by the JunoCam reveal that Jupiter’s poles are quite a chaotic place. They seem to be traversed by massive and densely packed cyclones. This came as a surprise seeing as scientists were expecting a somewhat Saturn-like orderly and neat vortex.
Researchers are yet unsure how these cyclones form, or even how long they last. They may be continuous just as well as they could be periodic. Also, observations showed that the planet’s north pole is different from its south. So specialists are going to continue analyzing this location, and see how, and if it changes.
This new data also shows that Jupiter’s magnetic field is also different than predicted. Namely, it is around twice as strong as scientists were expecting it to be. It also appears to be stronger in some places and weaker in some others.
“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,” states Scott Bolton, the mission’s principal investigator.
If the mission maintains its planned course, Juno should continue orbiting Jupiter for another two years as part of its primary mission.
Image Source: JPL/NASA