NASA Juno: Spacecraft Shows Jupiter's Polar Cyclones in Hypnotic Depth
From afar, Jupiter looks like a giant cup of coffee or an impressionist painting. But new infrared images from NASA’s Juno spacecraft show the planet’s polar cyclones in unprecedented detail. Like most things in space, it’s beautiful and borderline terrifying all at once.
The 3D animation, presented Wednesday at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, was created using Juno’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, which can measure light permeating through Jupiter’s cloud tops and haze. In this “tour” featured above, yellow regions in the cyclone represent warmer regions whereas red signifies cooler areas. The result looks something like Cinnabuns of death.
“Before Juno, we could only guess what Jupiter’s poles would look like,” Juno co-investigator Alberto Adriani says in a statement. “Now, with Juno flying over the poles at a close distance it permits the collection of infrared imagery on Jupiter’s polar weather patterns and its massive cyclones in unprecedented spatial resolution.”
A paper published in Nature back in March described Jupiter’s polar cyclones in greater detail. As Inverse previously reported, the team found that Jupiter’s north pole had been hiding eight circumpolar cyclones rotating around a cyclone in its center. cyclone. The planet’s south pole also has one mega cyclone, surrounded by five similar storms around it.
It’s unclear how long these hurricanes have existed on Jupiter, especially since we only recently confirmed their existence.
“Jovian polar regions are not visible from Earth owing to Jupiter’s low axial tilt, and were poorly characterized by previous missions because the trajectories of these missions did not venture far from Jupiter’s equatorial plane,” the authors of the Nature study write.
Hopefully this new Juno animation will help researchers better understand Jupiter’s interior, a mystery that has long-eluded scientists. For the rest of us, it’s a relaxing look at what we can only assume is planetary chaos.