NASA find features "unlike anything else encountered in our solar system" on Jupiter
Feel small now?
For the last year and a half, the NASA spacecraft Juno has been circling Jupiter and collecting data from the turbulent planet.
Juno spends much of is time far out of reach from the worst of the planet’s intense radiation belts, but swoops in once every orbit to focus on the planet beneath the stormy clouds on the surface.
Until now, scientists have had scant information about what lies below Jupiter’s thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds, and a surface famed for its distinctive dark and light bands and “great red spot”.
The great red spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm which has been observed from earth for over 200 years.
The findings are published in four different sections of the journal Nature, and describe the planet’s gravitational field, atmospheric flows, interior composition and polar cyclones.
Data collected by NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter indicate 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.
According to NASA, Juno science results include that the massive cyclones that surround Jupiter’s north and south poles are enduring atmospheric features and unlike anything else encountered in our solar system.
"These astonishing science results are yet another example of Jupiter’s curve balls, and a testimony to the value of exploring the unknown from a new perspective with next-generation instruments. Juno’s unique orbit and evolutionary high-precision radio science and infrared technologies enabled these paradigm-shifting discoveries," said 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."