A three-dimensional image of Jupiter’s north pole. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Scientists behind NASA’s Juno mission, which is currently in orbit around Jupiter, have revealed a brand new three-dimensional infrared movie that shows off the densely-packed cyclones and anticyclones that pepper the gas giant’s polar regions. The film is the very first detailed view of a dynamo, or engine, powering the magnetic field of a planet beyond the Earth. It will assist in the understanding of the forces at work powering the storm systems that range between 4,000 to 4,600 kilometres (2,500 to 2,900 miles) in diameter.
In order to stitch a movie together, the Juno team took data that has recently been acquired by the spacecraft’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument before blowing it up into a three-dimensional flyby of the planetary king’s north pole. Being able to image in the infrared part of the spectrum means that JIRAM is able to uncover light emerging from deep inside Jupiter with ease, whether it’s during the night or day. The instrument effortlessly peers some 50 to 70 kilometres (30 to 45 miles) beneath the Jovian cloud tops.
“Before Juno, we could only guess what Jupiter’s poles would look like,” admits ...