Jupiter Was Already Intriguing, But Now Juno Deepened Its Mystery


The Juno spacecraft has been bringing incredible new information about Jupiter.

One of the challenges of scientific exploration is that often one discovery just leads to another question, and sometimes it leads to many more. While stargazers already found Jupiter intriguing, the arrival of the Juno probe may have only deepened our King of the Planets’ mysteries.

Juno Compounds the Mysteries of Jupiter

Launched on August 5, 2011, Juno’s travel to the gas-giant took almost five years. Scientists have been waiting patiently for it to arrive, and it did so on July 4, 2016. Since then, the trove of data it collected has been a fantastic find.
“We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating,” said Diane Brown, a spokesperson at NASA headquarters in Washington.
She continued by stating that it was a ‘long trip’, but even just the first results show that it was well worth the journey. In its first pass near the planet, Juno came to within 4,200 km of the top of its atmosphere.

One of its flybys took the spacecraft over Jupiter’s northern polar regions. Those photos have been particularly astonishing as they showed swirling cyclones the size of Earth. They also present a massively chaotic system, completely different from the one recently observed by the Cassini mission to Saturn.

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Another item of interest on the already intriguing planet was the irregular nature of Jupiter’s magnetic field. One scientist described it as “lumpy”. For many, this indicates that the field originates much closer to the planetary surface than once believed. That would mean that the core of the planet exists, settling that debate. But it might also be less dense and by no means a perfect sphere.

A surprise also appeared from the ring-like storms of ammonia that swirl around Jupiter’s surface. Evidence shows that those at the equatorial regions descend deep into the planet. The ones at the poles spin out into other structures.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

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