When the Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, it began a series of orbits around the massive gas-giant. It has been examining the planetary king of our solar system from multiple altitudes and with several instruments during such passes. Data has been gathering over the last ten months, and various studies based on it have been filled with stunning new information.
The Juno Spacecraft Is Revealing Jupiter
With the recent successes of the Cassini probe at Saturn, scientists believed they had some idea of how gas giants work. But as Juno probed more of Jupiter’s secrets, they found some striking differences between what were supposed to be somewhat similar planets.
The most interesting were at the poles. Whereas Saturn has a more singular, organized system of storms, Jupiter’s polar regions are in complete chaos. Some of the individual cyclones are larger than our own planet. They appear to be made out of multiple gasses, mostly ammonia.
Another surprise for scientists came in the gravitational readings, determined by the speed and trajectory the Juno spacecraft achieved during its orbits. A much-heated debate was tossed about in the astronomical community regarding Jupiter’s core. Some of the subject matters were whether this was solid, how much it weighed, or even if it existed at all. The current readings, at least for now, may prove that everyone might be right, at least a little bit.
Stunning new information in the gravitational measurements shows what may be a core much heavier than once thought. But also, this may be irregular in its formation. This also applies to the planet’s magnetic field, which was described as “lumpy” and twice as strong as predicted.
“There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter,” said lead researcher, Scott Bolton.