Weizmann scientists help unveil the depths of Jupiter's winds

10 March, 2018, 01:09 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Juno revelation Jupiter's mysterious jet-streams are 'unearthly'

Juno is now scheduled to remain in orbit around Jupiter until July 2018, but NASA is looking at ways to extend the mission.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Each of the 15 storms appear to persist independently without merging for reasons that remain unknown.

Among the scientific mysteries uncovered are weird geometric constellations of cyclones on both of Jupiter's poles. Those eight circumpolar cycles that surround the larger central cyclone on the planet's north pole are 2,500 to 2,900 miles in diameter.

At Jupiter's north and south poles, the cyclones are so densely packed that they actually touch one another.

They also say the massive cyclones on the planet's north and south poles are unique - nothing in the solar system can compare to them. "Our results imply that the outer differentially-rotating region should be at least three times deeper in Saturn and shallower in massive giant planets and brown dwarf stars".

The researchers said that in future orbits they plan on using similar gravitational studies to investigate the depth and structure of Jupiter's iconic spot. At the south pole, it was the same arrangement, only with five storms. Thought to be as old as the planet itself, these bands are sculpted by high-speed winds whipping around the orb in opposite directions, and constitute the "face" Jupiter presents to the outside world.


The study is published across four separate articles in the journal nature (1,2,3 and 4), covering the planets asymmetrical gravitational field, polar cyclones, atmospheric flows and interior makeup. "This was certainly a surprise". We've spent so long only being able to see the striped glory of the very top layer of its atmosphere that it's hard to think Juno and its suite of instruments won't learn something we never even imagined. 2018. Jupiter's atmospheric jet streams extend thousands of kilometres deep.

"As of recently, we just had a shallow comprehension of them and have possessed the capacity to relate these stripes to cloud includes along Jupiter's planes".

Guillot and his colleagues say the gravitational asymmetry is the result of complex atmospheric and interior wind flows. Among the measurements Juno beamed back to Earth are those of the planet's gravity field, sent via radio waves: As the planet's gravity pulls on the spacecraft in its flyby, the radio signal is also shifted a bit; this shift in the wavelengths, though minuscule, is measurable.

That's one of the biggest mysteries about Jupiter right now: We aren't sure if the planet is gas and liquid through and through or if there's something solid buried deep within it. Gravity measurements collected by Juno during its close flybys of the planet have now provided an answer.

In the first paper, researchers led by Luciano Iess of the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy used Doppler data to study Jupiter's gravitational field. Using the radio link between Juno and the Earth, the team was able to measure the velocity of the probe down to changes of one-hundredth of a millimeter.

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