NASA spies fierce cyclone dance on Jupiter

An illustration depicting the U.S. space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. NASA  JPL-Caltech  Handout via REUTERS

NASA handout of an illustration depicting the U.S. space agency's Juno spacecraft in orbit above Jupiter's Gread Red Spot. Thomson Reuters

Experts say technology could be making us worse drivers, researchers highlight the gender disparity in kidney donations, and the Juno orbiter captures clusters of cyclones on Jupiter.

At Jupiter's North and South poles, the cyclones are so densely packed that they actually touch one another. A similar situation may be occurring at other big gas planets like Saturn, where the atmosphere could be even deeper than Jupiter's, he said.

We've already learned that the aurora that circle Jupiter's poles don't work the way we expected. Now a set of four papers published in the scientific journal Nature peek below the surface of the planet for the first time, describing Jupiter's huge clusters of cyclones, wonky gravitational field and powerful winds that give the planet its distinctive banded appearance. Until now we only had a superficial understanding of them, and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter's jets, Kaspi told ScienceAlert. Now, following the Juno gravity measurements, we know how deep the jets extend and what their structure is beneath the visible clouds. Yohai Kaspi from the department of earth and planetary sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot - shows that the stripes, which are belts of strong winds circling the planet, extend to a depth of about 3,000 km. Using some of the same methods they developed to characterize the jet-streams, they are trying to understand how deep this giant storm extends.

"In addition, the gravity signature of the jets is entangled with the gravity signal of [Jupiter's] interior".

Another Juno result released today suggests that beneath the weather layer, the planet rotates almost as a rigid body.

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

"This is really an fantastic result, and future measurements by Juno will help us understand how the transition works between the weather layer and the rigid body below", Tristan Guillot, a Juno co-investigator from the Université Côte d'Azur, Nice, France, said in a NASA release. That's the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, or JIRAM, which studies the polar atmosphere, trying to learn more about the mysterious "hot spots" that mark the planet.

"Now, thanks to Juno's fantastic accuracy (it measured Jupiter's gravity field 100 times better than before), we have the ground truth". "Now, we have been able to observe the polar weather up-close every two months", said Alberto Adriani, Juno co-investigator from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome, and lead author of the paper.

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"The manner in which the cyclones persist without merging and the process by which they evolve to their current configuration are unknown", the researchers wrote.

They determined that the magnitude of the winds of Jupiter decayed with altitude, finally petering out at a depth of around 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) below cloud level.

These results indicate these flows represent roughly 1 percent of Jupiter's total mass, meaning Jupiter's winds are continuously blowing more than three Earth masses of material around the planet.

These cyclones far exceed a category five cyclone in strength, reaching up to 350km/h.

Answering this question may help us understand how the solar system and its planets formed. Its north pole is dominated by a central cyclone surrounded by eight circumpolar cyclones with diameters ranging from 2,500 to 2,900 miles (4,000 to 4,600 kilometers) across.

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

Nearly all the polar cyclones, at both poles, are so densely packed that their spiral arms come in contact with adjacent cyclones.

"Driver assist" features like rear-view cameras that are available on many of today's cars are created to make roads safer, but some experts say they're causing more problems than they're solving. "We had the unique opportunity to compare the two planets at the same time", says Iess, who has analyzed the Cassini data with Burkhard Militzer, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

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