Jupiter’s South Pole finally discovered

Betsy Asher Hall / Gervasio Robles | JPL-Caltech | SwRI/MSSS | NASA This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection
Betsy Asher Hall / Gervasio Robles | JPL-Caltech | SwRI/MSSS | NASA
This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers).

Astronomers and scientists all over the world are amazed by the first results of Juno mission. About 40 papers have already been presented to discuss the new, stunning data coming from the NASA’s mission to Jupiter.

“We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating,” said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It was a long trip to get to Jupiter, but these first results already demonstrate it was well worth the journey.”

A completely unknown new world of giant cyclones and “storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet’s surface than previously thought.”

The awesome image above shows Jupiter’s South Pole, as seen by Juno from 52,000 kilometres, showing cyclones as large as 1000 kilometers in diameter. This result is completely unexpected, because scientists believed to find something like a unique vortex, not relatively small ones.

For comparison, below are details of Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot (GRS), which is so much larger than these newly-discovered cyclones: In fact, the GRS is larger than Earth’s diameter.

Also, Jupiter’s poles appear dramatically different from neighbouring Saturn’s, according to the scientists, with nothing like the hexagon-shaped cloud system over Saturn’s north pole.

Prior to the Juno mission, it was known that Jupiter had the most intense magnetic field in the solar system. Measurements of the massive planet’s magnetosphere, from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG), indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected, and more irregular in shape. MAG data indicates the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss, about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.

And the best is yet to come: Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Bolton. “On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system — one that every school kid knows — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”

Alessandro Simula (Phisicist and Science Communicator)