NASA Photos Reveal What's Brewing On Jupiter's Surface

NASA Photos Reveal What's Brewing On Jupiter's Surface

Scientists thought they'd find something similar to the six-sided cloud system spinning over Saturn's north pole.

These new photos help to settle some ongoing debates, most notably, according to National Geographic, "whether the patterns painted on the surface are merely superficial, or reflect the work of processes churning away inside the planet".

Bottom line: Image of Jupiter's south polar region by cameras on the Juno spacecraft.

And there's more. Another study using data from Juno's gravity measurements reveals that Jupiter's counterrotating stripes are a two-dimensional representation of a vast three-dimensional jet stream structure deep inside the planet, and these jets are deeply embedded within the planet's powerful gravitational field.

NASA's Juno spacecraft snapped the image 74,896 miles above the gas giant's south pole, showing a trippy and colorful array of swirling cloud formations. These weather systems churn down to a depth of 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers), and this layer contains a huge amount of stuff - accounting for approximately 1 percent of the mass of the entire planet. Since details about anything Jupiter related have always been a complete mystery for scientists, these new measurements done by Juno shed some light on a couple of topics.

"Galileo viewed the stripes on Jupiter more than 400 years ago", said Yohai Kaspi, Juno co-investigator from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and lead author of a Nature paper on Jupiter's deep weather layer. "It's like going from a 2-D picture to a 3-D version in high definition".

"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.

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Kaspi said, "By contrast, Earth's atmosphere is less than one millionth of the total mass of Earth".

The finding is important for understanding the nature and possible mechanisms driving these strong jet streams.

We know that Jupiter is about 11 times bigger than Earth, yet its size doesn't slow its rotation; Jupiter has a rotation of 10 hours.

Jupiter weighs more than twice as much as all the other planets put together.

Instead, they found an octagon-shaped grouping over the north pole, with eight cyclones surrounding one in the middle, and a pentagon-shaped batch over the south pole.

To date, Juno has completed 10 science passes over Jupiter and logged nearly 122 million miles (200 million kilometers), since entering Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016. Until now, scientists have had scant information about what lies below Jupiter's thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

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