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NASA's Juno finds Jupiter's poles are ridden with cyclones
11 March 2018, 04:54 | Justin Tyler
An illustration depicting the U.S. space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Jupiter's north pole (shown above) features one cyclone surrounded by eight similarly sized cyclones with diameters for all averaging between 2,500 to 2,900 miles. "Now, following the Juno gravity measurements, we know how deep the jets extend and what their structure is beneath the visible clouds", said Kaspi, who likened the advancement to going from a "2-D picture to a 3-D version in high definition". This animation illustrates a recent discovery by Juno that demonstrates these east-west flows, also known as jet-streams penetrate deep into the planet's atmosphere, to a depth of about 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers). Juno's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument can measure the planet's heat percolating through the atmosphere, probing the weather systems up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) below, day or night.
A computer-generated image showing Jupiter's south pole. Less is also the lead author of a paper included in the journal "Nature".
"The result is a surprise because this indicates that the atmosphere of Jupiter is massive and extends much deeper than we previously expected", Mr. Kaspi said in an email.
Adriani explained that the width of each of the northern cyclones is the distance between New York City and Naples, and the Southern cyclones are even more massive in comparison.
These are just some of the discoveries reported by four global research teams, based on observations by NASA's Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter.
This image is one in a series of images taken in a Juno mission experiment to capture the best results for illuminated parts of Jupiter's polar region.
"Since Jupiter is basically a giant ball of gas, the initial expectation was that there would be no asymmetries in the gravity field between the north and south", said Professor Yohai Kaspi from The Weizmann Institute in Israel and lead author of the research paper recently submitted to Nature. These poles are one of a kind in the solar system, being very close to one another, having very fast winds up to 350 kph, and being very large in size. Finally, and perhaps most remarkably, they are very close together and enduring.
"This is really an fantastic result, and future measurements by Juno will help us understand how the transition works between the weather layer and the rigid body below", said Tristan Guillot, a Juno co-investigator from the Université Côte d'Azur, Nice, France, and lead author of the paper on Jupiter's deep interior. A feature such as it is something that is like nothing else that has been observed so far in the solar system.
Jupiter's poles are a stark contrast to the more familiar orange and white belts and zones encircling the planet at lower latitudes. Interestingly, even though the Cyclones are spaced tightly, they still remain distinct and have morphologies that are individual. The observation has led Adriani to believe that not all gaseous giant planets are created equal. Juno's 11th science pass will be on April 1. Launched in 2011, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 and peering beneath the thick ammonia clouds. After that, a scientist at the Pasadena Laboratory in California will be having to reach a decision regarding the satellite's next mission in outer space.
Using data gathered from Juno's sophisticated suite of instruments, researchers have found that Jupiter's storms aren't confined to the uppermost layers of the Jovian atmosphere.
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