New NASA data reveals many of Jupiter's hidden secrets

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When the Juno mission was successfully launched in 2011, astronomers worldwide were thrilled.

Jupiter has the strangest storm behavior observed to date, with formation patterns that have never been seen elsewhere.

Although Jupiter's surface has been studied extensively, its interior remained unexplored until 2016, when Juno successfully slid into orbit around the gas giant.

Guillot and his colleagues say the gravitational asymmetry is the result of complex atmospheric and interior wind flows. This gravitational asymmetry is caused by hydrogen-rich gas is flowing asymmetrically deep in the planet, and Juno was able to study this process.

Another striking result is the lovely new imagery of Jupiter's poles captured by Juno's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument.

In order to take a look beneath the bands of clouds and get a better sense of what was happening closer to the surface, the team behind the Juno mission looked at the planet's gravitational field. What you see here is the heat (measured as radiance) coming out from the planet through the clouds: yellow indicates the presence of thinner clouds and dark red the thicker ones.

The giant planet has other fierce storms as well, and recent studies have revealed quite a few things about them.

Earth's atmosphere, by comparison, holds less than a millionth of the planet's total mass.

This computer-generated image shows the structure of the cyclonic pattern observed over Jupiter's south pole

Below this depth, the data shows, Jupiter's interior rotates as one solid body, a churning mass of liquid hydrogen and helium.

Up to a depth of about 3,000 km, Juno's data showed, Jupiter comprises a psychedelic swirl of cloud bands and jet streams blown by powerful winds, in opposite directions and at different speeds. "There is nothing else like it that we know of in the solar system", he added.

Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio.

The depth to which the roots of Jupiter's famous zones and belts extend has been a mystery for decades.

"The work demonstrated here is extremely robust", Fortney wrote in his editorial.

One of those instruments studies the same region of Jupiter, the poles-and because Juno orbits from pole to pole rather than around the planet's middle, this tool is uniquely poised to make new discoveries about what's happening there. Next, Iess says, the spacecraft "is set to measure tides raised by Io and the other moons, which may provide new insight into dynamical phenomena ongoing inside Jupiter". Corresponding Author: Luciano Iess (Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy). But according to rumor, Saturn is different in a very specific way-its dynamic weather appears to extend much deeper into the planet than Jupiter's, just as predicted. These discoveries solve an nearly 50-year-old puzzle in planetary science - what goes on beneath the planet's swirling clouds.

The fourth and final paper, led by Alberto Adriani from INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali in Italy, reports that the continent-sized cyclones at Jupiter's poles - discovered by Juno previous year - are not a chaotic jumble, but instead form polygonal patterns.

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