NASA’s Juno probe has captured incredible images of the huge cyclones that surround Jupiter’s north and south poles – and they’re unlike anything in the solar system.
The Juno probe took five years to make the 1.7 billion mile journey to the solar system’s largest planet – and is now gathering data on the mysterious gas giant.
The probe captured data showing that the atmospheric winds of the gas-giant planet run deep into its atmosphere and last longer than similar atmospheric processes found here on Earth.
The huge cyclones at the poles are believed to be lasting atmospheric features, and are ‘unlike anything encountered in our solar system’, the scientists say.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. ‘Juno is only about one third the way through its primary mission, and already we are seeing the beginnings of a new Jupiter.”
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‘Juno’s unique orbit and evolutionary high-precision radio science and infrared technologies enabled these paradigm-shifting discoveries.’
The depth to which the roots of Jupiter’s famous zones and belts extend has been a mystery for decades.
Gravity measurements collected by Juno during its close flybys of the planet have now provided an answer.
‘Galileo viewed the stripes on Jupiter more than 400 years ago,” said Yohai Kaspi, Juno co-investigator from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and lead author of a Nature paper on Jupiter’s deep weather layer.
‘Until now, we only had a superficial understanding of them and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter’s jets. Now, following the Juno gravity measurements, we know how deep the jets extend and what their structure is beneath the visible clouds. It’s like going from a 2-D picture to a 3-D version in high definition.”