Planet Jupiter's atmospheric winds last longer than similar atmospheric processes found on Earth, according to data collected by NASA's Juno mission. Thought to be as old as the planet itself, these bands are sculpted by high-speed winds whipping around the orb in opposite directions, and constitute the "face" Jupiter presents to the outside world.
Likewise, observations of the atmospheric motions concluded that the planet's crisscrossing jet streams of winds extend some 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) deep, way much deeper than scientists expected.
"Juno is created to look beneath these clouds", said planetary science professor Yohai Kaspi of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, who led part of the research using Juno's new measurements of Jupiter's gravity. "Until now, we only had a superficial understanding of them and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter's jets". - AFP picThe findings were the result of unparalleled measurements of Jupiter's gravity field by Juno, in orbit around the closest gas giant to Earth since July 2016.
NASA's Juno probe has captured incredible images of the huge cyclones that surround Jupiter's north and south poles - and they're unlike anything in the solar system. For a fast-rotating gas planet like Jupiter, such an asymmetry is rather unusual, as it suggests that it is also low The surface must give dynamic and diverging currents, as Iess and his colleagues explain.
This handout picture provided by Nature and released by NASA/SWRI/JPL/ASI/INAF/IAFPS on March 8, 2018 shows Jupiter's South Pole in a mosaic of images acquired by the Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper at wavelengths. There has been disagreement over whether the planet's bands are a weather system, comparable to the Earth's jet streams, or whether they are an aspect of a deeper-seated convection system that transports energy out of the interior.
"The winds (or flows) determine the gravity asymmetry", Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome said in an email to Seeker.
Another Juno result released today suggests that beneath the weather layer, the planet rotates almost as a rigid body.
This computer-generated image shows the structure of the cyclonic pattern observed over Jupiter's south poleNASA JPL-Caltech SwRI ASI INAF JIRAM
Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system, it still holds many secrets. Provided their spacecraft stays healthy and funded, the Juno team is contemplating additional measurements that could further probe Jupiter's interior, such as monitoring tidal bulges raised by large moons whipping around the planet. JIRAM probes the weather layer down to 30 to 45 miles (50 to 70 kilometers) below Jupiter's cloud tops. Jupiter's south pole also contains a central cyclone, but it is surrounded by five cyclones with diameters ranging from 3,500 to 4,300 miles (5,600 to 7,000 kilometers) in diameter.
"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". All cyclones lasted for seven months. The northern cyclones each range from between 4,000 and 4,600 km across in size.
While these storms might look like the same cyclone with branched arms, they are actually separate storms that are densely packed.
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.
When the Juno mission was successfully launched in 2011, astronomers worldwide were thrilled.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio.