Juno Spacecraft: NASA’s Juno Mission Delivers First Close Look At Jupiter's Surface
June 04, 2017 07:31 PM EDT
In our Solar system, Jupiter is the largest planetary system which has many unknown secrets within it. Recently, NASA Juno mission has returned with interesting data.
The world of Jupiter has very complex and turbulent climate, where mysterious Earth-sized cyclones are formed in the polar region. The gigantic and lumpy magnetic field of the Jupiter originated at a closer region of its surface than the previous thought.
Main Objective Behind NASA's Juno Mission
To study the atmosphere of Jupiter and measure the Jupiter's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere, NASA sent a space-probe called Juno. Juno is the second mission developed under NASA's New Frontiers Program and it's the first time that scientists have gone into a polar orbit. Like the common satellites, Juno also empowered by the solar arrays.
Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, entering Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016. During the orbit of the gas giant, Juno flew within about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of Jupiter's swirling cloud tops on Aug. 27 and collected the first data from Jupiter surface. However, the data from the first close look is shared in Geophysical Research Letters.
Some Fascinating Outcomes From Juno Mission
After analyzing the received data from Juno, researchers discovered that the polar regions of Jupiter are covered with swirling cyclones and anticyclones storms. According to NASA, the size of those cyclones are around half of the Earth or even more and they are densely clustered and rubbing together. However, astronomers are baffled about the formation and stability of the said storms
Moreover, NASA discovered that Jupiter's North Pole doesn't look like the South Pole. Regarding this, astronomers are questioning whether the whole system of Jupiter is dynamic and they captured a single stage, which may look different in the next time or will disappear. Or it may be a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another.
To study the planet's interior structure, NASA designated Juno to map gravitational and magnetic fields of Jupiter, which is crucial for better understanding. The outcome of the Juno magnetometer Investigation (MAG) showed that the magnitude of the magnetic field was 7.766 Gauss, which is significantly stronger than expected.
However, Jupiter's magnetic field looks lumpy and it was unevenly distributed, that's why some places have stronger field, while other regions have a weaker one. In fact, this uneven distribution suggested that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen.
Juno was also designed to investigate the polar magnetosphere and the origin of Jupiter's powerful auroras. However, the collected data showed that the emissions are caused by particles that pick up energy, slamming into atmospheric molecules. Though, Juno's initial study indicates that the formation of Jupiter's aurora seems very different than the Earth.