Discoveries From Juno: Massive Cyclones Spotted Beneath Jupiter's Surface

An illustration depicting the U.S. space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Great Red Spot

An illustration depicting the U.S. space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Researchers studying Jupiter using data and observations from the Juno spacecraft just released four new papers on their results, and I honestly can't say what's cooler: the science, or the jaw-dropping images.

What is the discovery about the Jupiter?

These cyclones have been spotted near the planet's poles, which have been a mystery for a while now.

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. The Cyclones have very violent winds, sometimes reaching a whopping speed of 350 kilometers per hour. It is an observation that was made over seven months.

The storm formations are unlike anything already seen in the universe. "We were wrong about it", he said via email.

Before the Juno probe, there was no way to determine what lies beneath Jupiter's famous longitudinal bands.

Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun, dwarfs the solar system's other planets, measuring about 143,000 km (89,000 miles) in diameter at its equator, compared with Earth's diameter of about 12,750 km (8,000 miles). "That is basically a mass equal to three Earths moving at speeds of tens of meters per second".

Two other papers detailed what lies beneath them. Until now, scientists have had scant information about what lies below Jupiter's thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds.

On a gas planet, such an asymmetry can only come from flows deep within the planet; and on Jupiter, the visible eastward and westward jet streams are likewise asymmetric north and south.

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. For starters, it saw that the winds that travel on the planet are different from those that go on Earth, lasting for longer periods of time and going deeper into the atmosphere.

"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.

The finding is important to understand the structure, core mass, nature and eventually the origin of Jupiter.

The final paper looked further deep into Jupiter's core.

Another Juno result released today suggests that beneath the weather layer, the planet rotates almost as a rigid body."This is really an awesome result, and future measurements by Juno will help us understand how the transition works between the weather layer and the rigid body below", said Tristan Guillot, a Juno co-investigator from the Université Côte d'Azur, Nice, France, and lead author of the paper on Jupiter's deep interior.

As for Juno, NASA now has plans to continue using the spacecraft to reveal more of Jupiter's secrets through at least July 2018.

On July 4, 2016, the Juno spacecraft finally reached the planet's orbit.

Juno completed its fourth flyby to Jupiter and the imagery it sent took even the Juno science team by surprise.

"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.

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