Enlarge / Jupiter’s chaotic, cyclone-filled poles. (credit: J.E.P.

Connerney et al., Science)
It’s hard to imagine that the Solar System’s biggest planet, which provided Galileo with his first key astronomic observations, has a lot of secrets left 450 years later. Yet, despite countless hours spent peering through telescopes and numerous robotic visitors, there’s a lot we still don’t know about Jupiter. Most notably, we didn’t even have a decent picture of the planet’s poles, and we have little idea of what its interior might look like.
Thanks to the arrival of the Juno probe, however, that’s starting to change.

After just a few orbits, Juno has imaged both poles, tracked some of the dynamics of its atmosphere, and started providing evidence of what may lie at the crushing depths of the planet’s interior.
Staring at the clouds
Earlier this year, Juno performed the closest approach to Jupiter ever made by human hardware, passing within 5,000km of Jupiter’s cloud tops.

That’s about the same distance as that from the cloud tops to the core of the planet. Juno’s highly elliptical orbit also takes it over both poles, allowing them to be imaged in greater detail than ever before.

And every instrument on the probe managed to capture some data.
Read 12 remaining paragraphs

Leave a Reply