Juno’s First Flyby Reveals Jupiter’s North Pole is Like Nothing We’ve Ever Imagined

Friday, 02 September 2016 - 3:15PM
Space
Astrophysics
Solar System
Friday, 02 September 2016 - 3:15PM
Juno’s First Flyby Reveals Jupiter’s North Pole is Like Nothing We’ve Ever Imagined
NASA has just received the first data and images of Jupiter's north pole from the Juno spacecraft, and what they've found is unlike anything they've ever imagined.

The spacecraft, which was launched on August 5th, 2011, has just made the first of 37 orbital flybys on August 27th of this year. Juno is loaded not only with imaging technology, but also with an infrared device called the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), another device known simply as Waves that records radio waves generated from the planet, and a handful of other instruments used to capture scientific data and send back to the team at NASA. These different pieces of technology led to a monumental yield of scientific data for the spacecraft's first flyby.

First of all, images taken of Jupiter's north pole have revealed some really intriguing facts about what it actually looks like up close. One of the principal investigators of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio had this to say about the data that's been recorded:

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First glimpse of Jupiter's north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before…It's bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We're seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.
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Perhaps the greatest find of Juno as of yet, however, is the radio waves being emitted by energetic particles that generate the encircling auroras of the planet. NASA has released an accompanying video with the radio waves, and it's downright haunting. Dr. Bill Kurth, involved specifically with Juno's Waves device, says that this is Jupiter "talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can." According to the data, these radio wave emissions are the strongest in the solar system. They also leave open a certain mystery for the scientists involved with the Juno project to investigate, as it's still unknown where the electrons that create these radio waves are coming from. While all of this is terribly exciting news, this is hopefully just the first of what's to come. Juno still has 36 flybys left in it, and if even just one more proves as fruitful as the first, then mankind's knowledge of the solar system could be about to take a big step forward.
Science
NASA
Space
Astrophysics
Solar System