What lies beneath Jupiter’s clouds?

What lies beneath Jupiter’s clouds?

Artist concept of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
Credit: capitalberg.com

What lies beneath Jupiter’s clouds is Breathtaking.

Once space exploration became popular, it expanded in every direction. Humans progressed in every direction from Moon to Pluto. We commonly hear terms like the Parallel universe and other galaxies that show the development we have done in this field. It can be safely assumed that all the planets of our solar system are being monitored all the time and Jupiter is no different. NASA launched a spacecraft by the name of Juno in 2016 to know some details about this gigantic planet. The previous information we had about it was that it is a huge ball of gas. Recent studies have shown us a bigger picture.

Considering the facts that Jupiter is so large that all the other planets combined cannot match the mass of it. Similarly, it has the shortest day among all the planets. The speed of its rotation is also the fastest. All these characteristics give a general perception that it will have a uniform gravitational field but the reality is against it. There was no scientific proof of this theory earlier but latest developments have changed it. The Juno mission initiated by NASA collected rigorous data about the biggest planet of our solar system.

The immediate observation that can be seen from the images is that it is the complex and turbulent world. The size of polar cyclones is about the size of the Earth which plunge storm systems right down to the core of the planet. The presence of lumpy magnetic field indicates that these cyclones are generated much closer to the surface than it was originally believed. Mike Janssen, a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a role in the New Frontiers Juno mission to investigate the origin and internal structure of Jupiter, explained these cyclones in the following words.

“Think of a bunch of hurricanes, everyone the size of the Earth, all packed so close together that each hurricane touches the other. Even in rooms of hardened researchers, these images of swirling clouds have drawn gasps.”

Previously, most of the research was based on the appearance of the dark bands, bright zones, and the big red spot. The latest research has a bit more depth to it. It has nullified a lot of prior beliefs and has shown a lot of promise to unfold more exciting truths in the future. On examining the data from Juno, scientists realized that the source of odd gravity and rapid stream jets is 3000 kilometers below the clouds of the Jupiter. It was also revealed that both poles have a massive cyclone which has a diameter of thousands of kilometers.

Photo of Jupiter taken by Juno Spacecraft.
Credit: NASA JPL

There is a great exhibition of geometry as a total 13 storms are circling the atmosphere. 8 of them are in the north while rest of them are born due to the southern cyclone. The co-investigator from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Alberto Adriani said.

Before Juno, we had no idea what the weather was like near Jupiter’s poles. Now, we have been able to observe the polar weather up-close every two months.

Four separate studies have come forward that try to explain the reasons for the unusual behavior of Jupiter. The first step was taken by Luciano Iess’s team. They proposed that the planet fails to show regularity in its gravitational field due to the presence of wind flows in the atmosphere and the crust. The team of Yohai Kapsi took the next step forward. They determined that the atmosphere of Jupiter is only 1% of its entire mass. They also confirmed the presence of jet streams below the clouds by using the work of Luciano’s team.

The work of Tristan Guillot created quite a lot of excitement among the scientific circle. His team found out that there is a mixture of helium and hydrogen alongside wind streams 3000 kilometers below the clouds. That fluid is rotating like a solid body and is responsible for the variation in gravity. Last theory came from Alberto Adriani which said that cyclonic storms are the basic reason for all this. It is considered the most concise of all as it utilized the knowledge from all the previous studies and proposed a comprehensive explanation. All these discoveries have shown us a new side of Jupiter and it is expected that it will help the researchers to understand the dynamics of the planet.

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