NaSa’s Juno

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Alvin Soon

Here’s a side of Jupiter you haven’t seen. In­stead of the tur­bu­lent reds and browns you’d nor­mally as­so­ciate with the largest planet in our so­lar sys­tem, these swirling blues are found on Jupiter’s poles.

These churn­ing in­di­goes are mas­sive, cy­clonic storms that are half the di­am­e­ter of Earth, and are sep­a­rate from the Great Red Spot, the tem­pes­tu­ous Earth-sized storm around Jupiter’s equa­tor that has been ob­served for more than 350 years.

This im­age, and oth­ers like it, is be­ing broad­cast from NASA’s Juno space­craft, which has been or­bit­ing Jupiter for nearly a year now. Juno swoops to within 4,200 kilo­me­ters from the top of Jupiter’s at­mos­phere every 53 days, and trans­mits 6MB of data with each pass, which takes one and a half days to down­load on Earth.

Juno has al­ready sur­prised re­searchers with un­usual data; be­sides the mas­sive po­lar storms, it turns out that Jupiter’s mag­netic field may be far larger than first thought, and that the gas gi­ant may have a large core that may even be mov­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.

Juno might be off or­bit­ing around a far­away planet, but the more it dis­cov­ers about Jupiter, the more it en­larges our un­der­stand­ing of the plan­ets in our so­lar sys­tem — in­clud­ing our own.

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