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OUT OF THIS WORLD | Earth, Space and Everything In-Between - a daily journey through weather, space and science with meteorologist/science writer Scott Sutherland

Juno gives us amazing 3D view of Jupiter's stormy north pole


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 6:15 PM - NASA's Juno spacecraft continues its amazing trek around the planet Jupiter, returning awe-inspiring views of the gas giant's swirling cloud and storms, and now, the mission team has given us a view we're never seen before!

This new animation, produced by scientists working with JIRAM, the Juno InfraRed Auroral Mapper, was presented by the team during the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, April 11.

In it, JIRAM data has been used to provide a clear, three-dimensional look at the immense swirling cyclones that comprise Jupiter's polar vortex, which - up until Juno - were usually shrouded in shadow or lost from view due to the angle we see the north pole from, here on Earth.

In this animation the viewer is taken low over Jupiter’s north pole to illustrate the 3-D aspects of the region’s central cyclone and the eight cyclones that encircle it. The movie utilizes imagery derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA's Juno mission during its fourth pass over the massive planet. Infrared cameras are used to sense the temperature of Jupiter’s atmosphere and provide insight into how the powerful cyclones at Jupiter's poles work. In the animation, the yellow areas are warmer (or deeper into Jupiter’s atmosphere) and the dark areas are colder (or higher up in Jupiter’s atmosphere). In this picture the highest “brightness temperature” is around 260K (about -13°C) and the lowest around 190K (about -83°C). The “brightness temperature” is a measurement of the radiance, at 5 µm, traveling upward from the top of the atmosphere towards Juno, expressed in units of temperature.

According to NASA:

In this animation the viewer is taken low over Jupiter's north pole to illustrate the 3-D aspects of the region’s central cyclone and the eight cyclones that encircle it. The movie utilizes imagery derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA's Juno mission during its fourth pass over the massive planet. Infrared cameras are used to sense the temperature of Jupiter's atmosphere and provide insight into how the powerful cyclones at Jupiter's poles work. In the animation, the yellow areas are warmer (or deeper into Jupiter's atmosphere) and the dark areas are colder (or higher up in Jupiter's atmosphere). In this picture the highest "brightness temperature" is around 260K (about -13oC) and the lowest around 190K (about -83oC). The "brightness temperature" is a measurement of the radiance, at 5 µm, traveling upward from the top of the atmosphere towards Juno, expressed in units of temperature.

In other words, as Jupiter's clouds radiate heat into space, they do so as emitted infrared radiation, which JIRAM detects. The intensity of the radiation coincides with the temperature - the hotter, the brighter - and the science team was able to map these emissions from different angles as the spacecraft flew over the region, to give the 3-D view.

Watch below as NASA Juno takes us for a spin around Jupiter's north pole.



"Prior to Juno we did not know what the weather was like near Jupiter’s poles. 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. "Each one of the northern cyclones is almost as wide as the distance between Naples, Italy and New York City - and the southern ones are even larger than that. They have very violent winds, reaching, in some cases, speeds as great as 220 mph (350 kph). Finally, and perhaps most remarkably, they are very close together and enduring. There is nothing else like it that we know of in the solar system."

As of April 1, 2018, Juno has performed its 12th "perijove" - the closest point to Jupiter in its highly elliptical orbit around the giant planet. During that pass, it captured the latest close views of the Great Red Spot (although not as close as they were from last July). With its 53.5-day orbit, it will make its 13th perijove on May 24, 2018.

Interested in seeing more imagery from Juno? Check out the JunoCam website, and maybe try your hand at some image processing, yourself.

Sources: NASA | NASA | The Planetary Society

Watch Below: Closest PHOTOS yet of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, see them here



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