Sci-tech

Juno Finds Clusters of Cyclones on Jupiter's Poles

Juno Finds Clusters of Cyclones on Jupiter's Poles

"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 cyclonic winds Juno discovered extend deeper into the planet than any similar weather pattern on Earth - as far as 1,900 miles, or 3,000 kilometers, into Jupiter, constituting about 1% of its mass. Refined measurements of Jupiter's uneven gravity field enabled the Weizmann Institute of Science's Yohai Kaspi in Rehovot, Israel, and his colleagues to calculate the depth of the jet streams at about 3,000 kilometers, or 1,865 miles.

The findings are part of a four-article collection on Juno science results published in the journal Nature.

"As of recently, we just had a shallow comprehension of them and have possessed the capacity to relate these stripes to cloud includes along Jupiter's planes".

In order to take a look beneath the bands of clouds and get a better sense of what was happening closer to the surface, the team behind the Juno mission looked at the planet's gravitational field.

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The findings will improve understanding of Jupiter's interior structure, core mass and, eventually, its origin, NASA said.

NASA's Juno probe has captured another striking new image of the Jupiter cyclone storms ravaging the planet's atmosphere. Because a gas giant's atmospheric pressure and magnetic field both depend on its mass, less-massive worlds such as Saturn should have dynamic weather extending more than three times deeper than Jupiter's. That is quite a bit deeper than previous estimates, and is revising scientists' picture of Jupiter's atmosphere as well as its inner layers.

Another Juno result released today suggests that beneath the weather layer, the planet rotates almost as a rigid body.

"We have never seen similar structures on other planets of our Solar System", says Alberto Adriani at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, the lead author on the paper describing the cyclones.

Juno launched on August 5, 2011, and spent five years travelling to its destination.

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Other curious phenomena lie at Jupiter's north and south poles. "The remarkable thing about this", said Galanti, "is that we were able to directly measure the signature of the flows themselves". "We tried to fit the Cassini data in the same way as Juno's data, but simply it did not work". For comparison, Earth's atmosphere contains less than one millionth of our planet's mass.

While these storms might look like the same cyclone with branched arms, they are actually separate storms that are densely packed. The wind speeds exceed Category 5 hurricane strength in places, reaching 220 miles per hour (350 kph).

Getting that information, Guillot said, allowed them to get a handle on the depth of the flow. Answering this question may help us understand how the Solar System and its planets formed. Finally, and perhaps most remarkably, they are very close together and enduring.

An artist's depiction of the Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter, with the planet's aurora visible as blue wisps on the right. On Feb. 7, Juno completed its 10th science orbit of Jupiter.

The stunning new image presents multiple massive swirling masses of Jupiter cyclone storms ravaging its atmosphere and its surface. That's the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, or JIRAM, which studies the polar atmosphere, trying to learn more about the mysterious "hot spots" that mark the planet.

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