The atmosphere of Jupiter surprised scientists


2017-05-26 13:00:08




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The atmosphere of Jupiter surprised scientists

The NASA Mission Juno ("Juno") has already surpassed all possible expectations. When it arrived at Jupiter last July after a five-year journey, the probe was the most distant from the Earth object, a solar powered and also flew faster than any other object created by people. The trajectory of the probe is closer to the stormy gas giant, than any devices that have been there before. And it is the first spacecraft that will pass by the mysterious poles of Jupiter and find out, contrary to most assumptions that they are blue and do not have the characteristic bands of the planet.

Last August, "Juno" has passed over Jupiter and collected the data that scientists have deciphered since then. Today was published two works on the theme of the Jupiter auroras, atmosphere, magnetic and gravitational fields. Atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter is not only smaller than believed, similar to earth's — it is much harder and peremenchiva. To fully understand the Jupiter, a single probe can be extremely inadequate. Fortunately, "Juno" is doing his job.

You should Start with the upper atmosphere and the polar auroras of Jupiter. Scientists already knew that the polar lights Jupiter make familiar to us Northern lights glimmer: they are hundreds of times more robust and cover a larger area than the whole planet Earth. "Juno" uses several instruments to study energetic particles of these auroras and physics that governs their dynamics. And if the data from the first approach we can make certain conclusions, lights of Jupiter are very different from earth.

"you Really want to interpret what he saw on another planet, based on Earth," says Jack Connerney, astrophysicist of the space flight Center. Goddard at NASA. "Until the last week in our models of Jupiter's auroral electrons have gone in the wrong direction."

On the Ground, the electrons of the planet's magnetic field excited by the solar wind, and then head to the poles, where fly into other atoms and molecules, giving off a distinctive glow. On Jupiter, as discovered tools "Juno", the electrons actually excited, moving away from the polar regions.

In Addition to this all indicates that people generally misjudge the atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter.

"Scientists believed that the main source of energy in the atmosphere is the sun," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator, "Juno" and lead author of the other work. "So they assumed that as soon as we go below the sunlight, the particles will be simple and subtle."

But it was not so: the particles of the atmosphere of Jupiter are as numerous and lined, like the famous striped appearance of the planet. Particularly interesting is the Equatorial zone of the ammonia, which stretches for hundreds of kilometers down to the core of the planet — how could see the tool "Juno". On the basis of the most current models of the atmosphere of Jupiter, so there should not be.

Especially high activity scored deep into Jupiter's atmosphere, magnetic and gravitational fields that the probe intends to map.

"If Jupiter was just a big rotating gas ball, its gravitational field should not have any strange harmonics," says Connery. But Jupiter's gravity is heterogeneous, which may indicate deep convection — drops deeply in Jupiter can cause gravitational fluctuations as well as fluctuations in atmospheric pressure change the weather on Earth. Jupiter's magnetic field was also more variable geographically than the scientists expected.

The Team of "Juno" is still not understood why Jupiter's atmosphere is so informal, although Connery dare to assume that all fluctuations can be associated with deep convection, which is expressed in a gravitational field, which also leads to non-uniformity of the magnetic field. "Looking back, we wonder why you thought everything would be plain and boring," says Bolton.

A Detailed understanding of the atmosphere of Jupiter can help scientists understand some of the strange features of the Earth. Bolton compares the Equatorial ammonia Jupiter's tropical zone around its equator. "The concept that we have in the world, is that the band is evolving, because air is the ocean, which is rebounding," says Bolton. "But Jupiter is there, so why does it look the same? Perhaps we don't understand something fundamental in the atmosphere. Perhaps our assumptions about the Ground was wrong."

The same information transfer can be applied to the Earth's magnetic field, which is difficult to study because it is generated deep under the crust and partially closed random iron deposits. Jupiter has no crust and no extra magnets to collect the data. We first have the opportunity to look at the present magnetic Dynamo. Maybe we should start with Jupiter.

All of these discoveries challenge our understanding of the cosmos — and not just because of the results. Scientists usually first send a probe to the planet followed the Orbiter, equipped with all the bells and whistles for the data that will collect the probe. Our understanding of how Jupiter and the giant planets, which appeared in the last few decades, it was too simple.

And so we need more missions in the style of "Juno" with a large number of orbits, which will allow a complete map of the planet. Lucky that this probe has done its job. Whether there will be.



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