Juno Flyby Reveals Stunning New Images of Jupiter

(CNN) — The largest planet in our solar system seems to be looking more and more like a work of art. It is full of surprises, just like its moons. NASA’s Juno mission, which began orbiting Jupiter in July 2016, recently made its 38th close flyby of the gas giant. The mission was extended earlier this year, adding a flyby of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in June.


The data and images from these flybys are rewriting everything we know about Jupiter, said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, during a briefing at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans this Friday.

Check out the new photos of Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon 0:54

There, Bolton revealed 50 seconds of sound created when Juno flew past Ganymede during the summer. The moon audio clip was created by electrical and magnetic radio waves produced by the planet’s magnetic field and picked up by the spacecraft’s Waves instrument, designed to detect these waves.

The sounds are like a mind-blowing space age soundtrack.

“This soundtrack is wild enough to make you feel like you’re riding as Juno sails alongside Ganymede for the first time in more than two decades,” Bolton said. “If you listen carefully, you can hear the abrupt shift to higher frequencies around the midpoint of the recording, which represents the entrance to a different region in Ganymede’s magnetosphere.”

Juno’s team continues to analyze data from the Ganymede flyby. At the time, Juno was about 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from the moon’s surface, speeding past 41,600 mph (67,000 kilometers per hour).

“It is possible that the change in frequency shortly after the closest approach is due to the passage from the night side to the day side of Ganymede,” said William Kurth, co-principal investigator of the Waves instrument, which is based at the University of California. Iowa, in a statement.

The team also shared stunning new images that resemble artistic views of Jupiter’s swirling atmosphere.

“You can see how incredibly beautiful Jupiter is,” Bolton said. “It’s really an artist’s palette. It’s almost like a Van Gogh painting. You see these incredible vortexes and swirling clouds of different colors.”

Juno reveals new findings about Jupiter 0:38

These visually stunning images serve to help scientists better understand Jupiter and its many mysteries. The images of cyclones at Jupiter’s poles intrigued Lia Siegelman, a scientist who works with Juno’s team and who normally studies Earth’s oceans. He saw similarities between the atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter and the vortices in Earth’s oceans.

“When I saw the richness of turbulence around Jovian cyclones, with all the smaller filaments and eddies, it reminded me of the turbulence you see in the ocean around eddies,” said Siegelman, a physical oceanographer and postdoctoral fellow at Scripps. Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in a statement.

“These are especially evident in high-resolution satellite images of vortices in Earth’s oceans that are revealed by blooms of plankton that act as flow tracers.”

Mapping the magnetic field of Jupiter

Oceanographers are using their expertise in ocean eddies to study the turbulence at Jupiter’s poles and the physical forces that drive its large cyclones. Compare this image of a phytoplankton bloom in the Norwegian Sea (left) with turbulent clouds in Jupiter’s atmosphere (right).

Juno data is also helping scientists map Jupiter’s magnetic field, including the Great Blue Spot. This region is a magnetic anomaly located at Jupiter’s equator, not to be confused with the Great Red Spot, a centuries-long atmospheric storm south of the equator.

Since Juno’s arrival at Jupiter, the team has witnessed a change in Jupiter’s magnetic field. The Great Blue Spot is moving east at about 2 inches (5.1 centimeters) per second and will complete one revolution around the planet in 350 years.

Meanwhile, the Great Red Spot is moving west and will cross that finish line much faster, in about 4.5 years.

But the Great Blue Spot is being ripped apart by Jupiter’s jet streams, giving it a striped appearance. This visual pattern tells scientists that these winds extend much deeper into the gaseous interior of the planet.

The map of Jupiter’s magnetic field, generated by the Juno data, also revealed that the action of the planet’s dynamo, which creates the magnetic field inside Jupiter, originates from metallic hydrogen under a layer of “rain.” helium “.

Juno was also able to observe the faint ring of dust around Jupiter from inside the ring. This dust is actually created by two of the planet’s small moons, called Metis and Adrastea. The observations allowed the researchers to view part of the constellation Perseus from a different planetary perspective.

“It’s impressive that we can view these familiar constellations from a spacecraft half a billion miles away,” said Heidi Becker, co-principal investigator of the Juno Stellar Reference Unit instrument at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. in Pasadena, California, in a statement.

“But it all looks pretty much the same as when we appreciate them from our backyards here on Earth. It’s a daunting reminder of how small we are and how much we have yet to explore.”

In the fall of 2022, Jupiter will fly by Jupiter’s moon Europa, which will be visited by its own mission, the Europa Clipper, which will launch in 2024. Europa intrigues scientists because a global ocean lies beneath its ice sheet. . From time to time, feathers pop out of holes in the ice into space. Europa Clipper could investigate this ocean by “testing” and flying through the feathers, and learn if life is possible in this ocean world.

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Juno Flyby Reveals Stunning New Images of Jupiter

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