First science results from Juno show surprises in Jupiter’s atmosphere and interior

Newly-released, enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole from Juno as seen on Dec. 11, 2016. The image was taken from an altitude of about 52,200 kilometres (32,400 miles) above the planet’s beautiful cloud tops. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset

There has been a lot of attention given to the Cassini mission at Saturn lately, but meanwhile, NASA’s Juno probe also continues to be busy studying the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter. Juno is now revealing more of the giant planet’s secrets, and the first science results have now been published, which were presented last week at the European Geosciences Union meeting. As is common in planetary science, the new findings include significant surprises.

As it turns out, Jupiter’s interior seems to be rather different from what had been expected. Being a gas giant, Jupiter doesn’t have a surface as such below the atmosphere, it just gets progressively denser the farther down you go until you reach (as thought) a small, solid core.

“The whole inside of Jupiter is just working differently than our models expected,” said mission principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in Texas.

Read the rest of my article on AmericaSpace.

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