NASA’s Juno Spacecraft is making History.
The spacecraft has sent back to Earth its first images of the Gas Giants north pole, snapped during the first close approach to the Gas Giant while all of the spacecraft’s instruments were fully functional.
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The images of Jupiter show storm systems and climatological activities that have never before been observed in any of the Gas Giants of our solar system.
The Juno Spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral in Florida and arrived at Jupiter on the fourth of July, 2016.
According to a press release from NASA, it took more than a day to download SIX MEGABYTES of data collected during a six-hour transit of the prove, from Jupiter’s North Pole to the South Pole.
Even though the first data analysis is still in progress, scientists have managed to see some pretty impressive features, unlike anything they have previously seen in our solar system.
NASA reports that its spacecraft executed the first of thirty-six orbital flybys on August 27 when Juno came a mere 4,200 kilometers above Jupiter’s clouds.
“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “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.”
Researchers say that the most notable findings so far in the newly received images from Juno are Jupiter’s north and south poles.
“Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole,” said Bolton. “There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our solar system is actually unique. We have 36 more flybys to study just how unique it really is.”
While the spacecraft was snapping images of the Gas Giant, all of its remaining instruments were turned on and collecting data.
Reports from NASA say that the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), supplied by the Italian Space Agency obtained impressive images of Jupiter’s polar regions in infrared wavelengths, giving scientists on Earth an entirely different perspective of the Gas Giant.
“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome. “These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics.”
In addition to the fascinating images beamed back by the Juno Spacecraft, the mission’s Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (Waves) recorded some creepy ‘alien-like’ transmission from above the planet.
While these anomalous radio transmissions have known to exist since the 1950’s, they have never before been analyzed from such a close vantage point, indicates NASA.
“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter’s north pole. These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”