Giant Planet May Have Huge, 'Fuzzy' Core — More Jupiter Weirdness

02 Juin, 2017, 11:22 | Author: Come Portier

On Thursday, scientists unveiled the first in-depth science gathered by NASA's Juno mission, and it completely rewrites the Jupiter narrative.

Juno's findings are "really going to force us to rethink not only how Jupiter works, but how do we explore Saturn, Uranus and Neptune", Bolton said.

The gas giant, which is 588 million kilometres from Earth, has been described by the space agency as a 'complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, ' and plunging storm systems that travel deep to the planet's heart. Juno has also detected an overwhelming abundance of ammonia deep down in the atmosphere, and a surprisingly strong magnetic field in places - roughly 10 times greater than Earth's. Bolton said in a statement.

As the largest planet orbiting the sun, Jupiter has a profound effect on our solar system.

While the initial set of data barely scratches the surface of Jupiter's many mysteries, what scientists have already learned have been "Jupiter-shattering", to borrow the term used by Bolton, Juno's principal investigator.

It said Jupiter's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, may have been expanding when Juno approached.

The photos Juno has successfully collected are breathtaking and show Jupiter in a way we've never seen it before.

The spacecraft has been using eight instruments to examine the composition of Jupiter and its interior structure, along with its gravitational and magnetic fields since its arrival on July 4, 2016, Space.com reported.

Juno also encountered Jupiter's huge auroras, captured in ultraviolet and infrared images, and the electron beam pushing energy into the planet's upper atmosphere, which could be creating the auroras.

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After the failure of its main engine, NASA chose to put Juno into a long orbit over Jupiter, which will allow it to collect similar data to that which was first planned with a flyby every 53 days, although it may take a little longer to do so.

Among the findings that challenge assumptions are those provided by Juno's imager, JunoCam.

Juno is safe in its current orbit, but it'll take a bit longer for scientists on Earth to transmit its data back home in this mode.

Bolton said researchers want to know how the intense Earth-sized storms at the planet's poles formed and whether they are fleeting or more permanent.

Nonetheless, a photo that was taken on Jupiter's south pole showed the giant planet from about 32,000 miles away.

With dozens of cyclones hundreds of miles across - alongside unidentifiable weather systems stretching thousands of miles - the poles look nothing like Jupiter's equatorial region, instantly recognizable by its stripes and Great Red Spot, a raging hurricane-like storm.

Researchers are hoping to learn more about the Giant Red Spot, too, one of the "most iconic features in the entire solar system".

"If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it's Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments". More images from today's teleconference and a link to press release are posted on NASA's website.

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