A Blue Hue
Space enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats waiting for NASA's Juno probe to reach Jupiter and send back a new batch of photos of the gas giant. Now, the fruits of all that effort are here — and they show storm systems and weather activity like we've never seen before in our solar system.
The first images from the craft show Jupiter's North Pole. The iconic storm is barely visible. Instead, a blue hue takes center stage, along with other brewing storms.
The image also shows Jupiter's northern clouds casting shadows, indicating they are on a higher altitude than the surrounding terrain.
"First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno. “There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter."
Juno also snapped pictures of the gas giant's southern auroras, using the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper. To the right is an image of Jupiter's southern aurora.
Finally, the probe was able to gather this incredible audio which captured sounds released by Jupiter's auroras. These radio waves have been detected since the 1950's, but never analyzed this closely. This was gathered by the Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment.
“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter’s north pole. These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”
With 35 more flybys before the Juno mission ends in 2018, the craft is sure to get an even more detailed view of the gas giant — and perhaps discover more about what makes the planet so unique.