Jupiter Cyclone Storms Captured By Juno In Another Stunning Image

Katie Ramirez
March 10, 2018

"Our results imply that the outer differentially-rotating region should be at least three times deeper in Saturn and shallower in massive giant planets and brown dwarf stars".

Where winds are blowing east, that motion adds speed to the planet's already high rotational speed of about 43,000 kilometers per hour (27,000 miles per hour).

Juno so far has been a tour de force, bringing a very difference perspective on Jupiter to those spacecraft that have visited the gas giant in the past. Kaspi, "the initial expectation was that there would be no asymmetries in the gravity field between the north and south". Among the measurements Juno beams back to Earth are those of the planet's gravity field.

If the winds on the surface were shallow - 200 miles, for example - the asymmetry is small.

"For over 40 years we didn't know whether the bands would go all the way to the centre, or whether they were just skin deep".

The mission additionally found that the planet's inside pivots as a strong body, in spite of its liquid nature.

"Driver assist" features like rear-view cameras that are available on many of today's cars are created to make roads safer, but some experts say they're causing more problems than they're solving. The findings were confirmed with all the researchers getting the same measurements.

For the past year and a half, the NASA spacecraft Juno has been circling Jupiter and collecting data from the turbulent planet.

The finding is important for understanding the nature and possible mechanisms driving these strong jet streams. "In addition, the gravity signature of the jets is entangled with the gravity signal of the interior (e.g., Jupiter's core)".

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The research is one of four new papers on Jupiter set to be published Thursday that use Juno data to try and better understand the huge planet, which still holds many mysteries beneath and within its dense atmosphere.

"The result is a surprise because this indicates that the atmosphere of Jupiter is massive and extends much deeper than we previously expected", Kaspi told AFP.

Kaspi's team also calculated that Jupiter's atmosphere makes up 1% of the planet's total mass. At the point where those deep jet streams start to decay, the pressure is about 100,000 times that of the atmosphere at Earth's surface.

"They are extraordinarily stable arrangements of such chaotic elements", says Morgan O'Neill, a University of Chicago postdoctoral scholar and a coauthor on paper "Clusters of cyclones encircling Jupiter's poles".

The swirls and vortexes in the clouds of gas giants like Jupiter sometimes have analogs in Earth's atmosphere, but some cloud formations are completely alien. Juno passed closer to the planet than any other spacecraft before - sometimes only a few thousand kilometers. At the north pole, eight storms surrounded one storm at the center. But the numbers stayed oddly constant; the storms weren't drifting and merging, as our current understanding of the science suggested they should. They also found that the speed of the above-mentioned winds extend some 3,000 km beneath the cloud level, dropping in intensity with altitude.

Since the famous stripes of the planet Jupiter were seen by Galileo in the early 17th century, scientists have wondered whether they are just colorful bands or a significant layer of the planet. On Feb. 7, Juno completed its 10th science orbit of Jupiter.

The researchers said that in future orbits they plan on using similar gravitational studies to investigate the depth and structure of Jupiter's iconic spot.

"Following the Juno gravity measurements, we know how deep the jets extend and what their structure is beneath the visible clouds".

However, there's also a downside to the Juno mission: it offered so much valuable data that it's gonna be very hard to top it.

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