Juno Probe Reveals Details of What Happens Beneath Jupiter’s Clouds

NASA’s Juno platform returned some interesting information to Terra, pertinent to what is happening below Jupiter’s clouds. According to information released by the US space agency, this is probably the most complete 3D mapping we have of the largest planet. Of the solar system.

The new analysis was produced thanks to the use of an instrument called a “microwave radiometer” (MWR), by means of which Juno was able to see more deeply into Jupiter, revealing some previously unknown details: the first is the fact that the remarkable red spot On the surface it is actually much deeper than we thought: the storm it represents reaches almost 500 km in height.

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This, combined with prior knowledge that the storm is approximately 16,000 km long. In other words, the storm appears relatively flat, but much deeper than previously thought.

“We already knew it’s been going on for a long time, but we’ve never figured out how deep it is or how it really works,” said Scott Bolton, NASA’s Juno mission research chief. during the press conference that presented the video above to the American press.

In technical terms, storms on Jupiter, of which the Great Red Spot is the largest, were previously thought to be limited by the distance of sunlight reaching the gaseous planet. In short, the surface of the clouds is more obvious. There, sunlight penetrates far and there is condensation of water and ammonia.

The reality, however, is different: using a 3D mapping carried out by the MWR, the scientists were able to see that the red spot is between 200 km and 500 km below, considerably exceeding the distance reached by light. In a more simplistic comparison, the distance from the top to the bottom of the storm on Jupiter is slightly greater than that from our surface to the International Space Station (ISS).

But that’s not all: the storm itself is not as remarkable as the jets that feed it, these are rooted almost 3,000 km away. But everything indicates that this power is diminishing: since 1979, the storm has already lost about a third of its size.

Using microwaves (left), NASA’s Juno probe managed to collect new information about the phenomena present on the surface of Jupiter (Image: NASA / Publishing)

Another interesting detail is the presence of natural details that we also have here. On Earth there are what we might call “Ferrel cells”: air flows towards the poles and towards the east when it is near the surface and towards the west and the equator at higher altitudes. This movement is the opposite of another, called “Hadley’s cell.” both have an influence on our climate.

On Jupiter, there is something similar: the planet’s clouds move by flows to the east and west, with depths of 322 km. However, when scientists followed the path taken by the condensed ammonia, they also noticed that the wind was flowing from north to south, towards the poles.

The premise is the same as ours, but with much higher numbers: while Earth has one Ferrel cell per hemisphere, Jupiter has 16 – eight for each side. Furthermore, Earth’s cells extend almost 10 km above the surface, while Jupiter’s cells travel 322 km.

“This means that Jupiter’s cells are at least 30 times deeper than their counterparts on Earth,” said Keren Duer, a doctoral student at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel.

All of this showed a high degree of influence on the giant planet’s numerous cyclones: five years ago, the Juno catheter collected information about storms from Jupiter’s poles. In total, the gas giant has 13 cyclones at its poles: five in the south (forming a pentagon) and eight in the north that form an octagon.

That pattern hasn’t changed five years later: again, Juno used her Jovian Auroral Infrared Mapper (or just “JIAM”) and found that all cyclones are in the same places.

Basically some of the cyclones tried to get closer to the poles, but the action of the Ferrel cells along the upper cyclone on each side “pushed” them back to their original positions.

The Juno mission has gone through an extension recently, and NASA said the basketball-court-sized probe will continue to collect information until September 2025, that is, if radiation doesn’t render it useless sooner.

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Juno Probe Reveals Details of What Happens Beneath Jupiter’s Clouds

The Inside News Hyderabad