NASA’s Juno mission from orbit explores Jupiter!

NASA’s Juno mission from orbit explores Jupiter. It is capturing amazing photos and sending them back to Earth. Juno is also gathering atmospheric data and other observations about the planet. On August 5, 2011, the Juno mission was launched, and on July 4, 2016, arrived in orbit around the planet.  It is the farthest space probe ever powered by solar arrays and is a part of the new Frontiers Program. It was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by JPL (NASA). The spacecraft will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere once it completes its mission. It is the 2nd spacecraft to orbit. The 1st one being Galileo Orbiter which was orbited from 1995 to 2003.

Purpose of Juno Mission –

  • To measure composition, magnetic field, gravitational field, and polar magnetosphere.
  • To find the details about how Jupiter was formed, whether it has a rocky core.
  • To find information on the amount of water present in the atmosphere, deep winds, and mass distribution.

 Findings on Jupiter by Juno –

Jupiter’s energy crisis – 

A new observation suggests that auroras can cause Jupiter’s entry crisis. Jupiter is known to be warm, despite its great distance from the Sun. There is so little sunlight, and scientists believe that the upper atmosphere should be frigid and about -100 degrees F. In the upper atmosphere the average temperature is a roasting 800 degrees F.

Jupiter’s intense auroras, fueled by the strong magnetic field, are causing temperatures to soar, according to a recent study lead by NASA scientists. In the solar system, auroras are commonly occurring on planets with substantial magnetic. It occurs when electrically charged particles get trapped in the magnetic field and spiral towards the poles. The particles strike molecules and atoms on the way to poles in the atmosphere and produce light.

The observation is made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, dipping in and out of the intense radiation field to study the planet closely. The spacecraft’s close vantage point is helping the scientists to find the details about the planet’s atmosphere precisely.

Jupiter great red spot –

In a recent discovery, it was found that a series of smaller storms are helping to maintain Jupiter’s red spot. It is a storm in the southern hemisphere with crimson-colored clouds. These clouds spin counterclockwise at winds speeds that exceed any storm on Earth. The red spot is twice the diameter of the Earth and at its periphery blows at a rate up to 540 km per hour.

For at least the past 150 years, red spots have been shrinking. The researchers are still not sure why it is shrinking and how it has been formed in the 1st place. Before circulating the red oval, the small anticyclones pass through the high-speed peripheral ring of the red spot. In already dynamic situations, the small storms create chaos, temporarily changing the Red Spot’s 90 oscillation in longitude and the central oval treating the red clouds and forming streamers.

Winds on Jupiter –

The images from the Juno mission capture the northern hemisphere of the planets. Visible near the top of its atmosphere Jupiter’s strong winds create many swirling storms. The data from Juno helped scientists helped to find that the planet’s magnetic field changes over time. The winds extend more than 1800 miles deep. The material in the planet’s lower atmosphere is highly conductive electrically. The wind cuts this conductive material apart and carries it around Jupiter because of this the shape of the magnetic field changes. The original image was taken on February 21, 2021.

Near Jupiter, asteroids comet makes a stop –

A young comet-like object has settled near Trojans (a family of captured ancient asteroids) orbiting the Sun along with Jupiter. Near the Trojan population, this is the 1st time a comet-like object has been spotted. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured visible-light snapshots that revealed the vagabond objects shows signs of comet activity. The previous findings made by Juno gave ideas about the composition of the comet-like thing and the gasses driving its activity. The features of the comment are roughly 400,000 miles long broad tail and near the nucleus high-resolution features due to a coma and jets.

Jupiter cyclone –

The planet’s south pole has a cyclone. On November 3, 2019, the discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred by Juno spacecraft JIRAM. It was during the 22nd flyby the spacecraft collected science data on the planet. The data showed that Juno went from a pentagon of cyclones.  Compared to the six established cyclones, this new addition is smaller in stature and about the size of Texas.

JIRAM probed the weather layer down to 30 to 45 miles below Jupiter’s cloud tops and found and captured infrared light emerging from deep inside the planet. The speed of the new cyclone as indicated by the data is an average of 225 mph in comparison with the velocity of six more established cyclones. Spacecraft’s JunoCam captured the visible-light imagery of the recent cyclone. Two data provided information on the atmospheric process of the planet. These cyclones are new weather phenomena that have not to be discovered before.

Jupiter Lightning –

377 lightning discharges were detected by Juno’s MWR. The lightning was recorded in the megahertz and gigahertz. The data shows that Jupiter’s lightning is similar to Earth. The planet receives 25% less sunlight than Earth. The atmosphere derives most of the heat from within itself. But also Sun provides some warmth and heats the equator, not the pole. This heating in the equator, according to scientists, is just enough to create stability in the upper atmosphere, which causes warm air to rise from within. The poles don’t have upper layer warmth, and atmospheric stability allows warm gases from the interior to grow, driving convection and creating the ingredients for lightning.

These findings will help scientists find out more about the composition, circulation, and energy flows on the planet. The spacecraft detected peak rates of four lightning strikes per second.  These discoveries could happen because Juno is very close to the orbit of the planet.

Jupiter colorful belt – 

In the southern hemisphere, colorful swirling cloud belts are found in the image captured by Juno spacecraft. The planet appears to be a tapestry of vibrant cloud bands and storms. The dark region on the far left of the photo is the South Temperate Belt.  Intersecting the belt is a feature of slithering white clouds. The image was taken on December 16, 2017.

First findings Juno –

The Juno’s Microwave Radiometer examined from the atmosphere samples the thermal microwave radiation and this was done from the top of the ammonia clouds to deep within its atmosphere. The data indicate that iconic belts and zones are mysterious. The belt near the equator is going down, but at other latitudes, the belts and zones seem to be evolving to other structures. It was found that the planet’s magnetic field is more vital than expected and more irregular in shape. It is more robust in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution indicates that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. According to scientists from NASA, Juno is giving very close details of the planet’s magnetic field, which were not available before.

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