The photos of Jupiter’s poles provided to us by the space probe Juno have surprised and delighted us all.
If you look at the recent photos of the North Pole, you will understand why: huge masses of rotating air that seem to be still and quiet from a distance are actually moving at high speed.
The photo was taken during Juno’s 43rd flyby (July 5), when it came within 25,100 kilometers of the solar system’s giant planet. Due to the orientation of Jupiter’s axis, its poles are invisible to us in most cases, so scientists rely on the data provided by Juno when studying this planet.
In the photo above, the planet appears to be relatively calm, but when you zoom in, you notice that the planet is experiencing violent weather.
“Understanding how these huge storms form helps us study the fluid dynamics and cloud chemistry that shape Jupiter’s atmosphere and other atmospheric features on the planet. Scientists are most interested in the different shapes, sizes and colors of these huge wind masses.”
Each of Jupiter’s poles has its own unique arrangement of storms. The South Pole has, or rather had, 6 cyclones, the size of each of which is equal to the size of continental America. One was in the center and the other 5 revolved clockwise around it.
Scientists soon discovered a seventh storm far from Juno’s flyby. Accordingly, the pentagon (pentagonal storm) became a hexagon. This is different from Saturn’s North Pole Hexagon, which is actually a single storm shaped like a pentagon.
The North Pole is even weirder: there, scientists have found nine storms, eight rotating counterclockwise around one. And in the high-frequency regions of both pulses, other wind masses rotate over the rotating storms.
Using data from Juno, scientists have identified a mechanism by which these storms stay separate from each other and do not form into one large megastorm, as happened on Saturn. The changes that scientists observe between Juno’s flybys are an important factor in understanding Jupiter’s weather.
Ordinary citizens who are interested in similar issues can also participate in the research. For example, the top photo is a hobbyist rendering based on Juno’s raw material. If you want to give it a try, Night Magazine on BBC’s Sky explains everything in detail. You can even view Juno’s raw material here.
Enthusiasts can also help identify and classify cyclones (use Zooniverse’s Jovian Vortex Hunte for this). This is exactly the means that space scientists use in research.