Scientists working on NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter have released a 3-D infrared movie depicting densely packed cyclones and anticyclones that permeate the planet’s polar regions, and the first detailed view of a dynamo, or engine, powering the magnetic field for any planet beyond Earth.
This infrared 3-D image of Jupiter’s north pole was derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Juno mission scientists have taken data collected by the spacecraft’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument and generated the 3-D fly-around of the Jovian world’s north pole. Imaging in the infrared part of the spectrum, JIRAM captures light emerging from deep inside Jupiter equally well, night or day, according to a press release.
The instrument probes the weather layer down to 30 to 45 miles (50 to 70 kilometers) below Jupiter’s cloud tops. The imagery will help the team understand the forces at work in the animation – a north pole dominated by a central cyclone surrounded by eight circumpolar cyclones with diameters ranging from 2,500 to 2,900 miles (4,000 to 4,600 kilometers).
“Before Juno, we could only guess what Jupiter’s poles would look like,” said Alberto Adriani, Juno co-investigator from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome.
“Now, with Juno flying over the poles at a close distance it permits the collection of infrared imagery on Jupiter’s polar weather patterns and its massive cyclones in unprecedented spatial resolution.”
Juno has logged nearly 122 million miles (200 million kilometers) to complete those 11 science passes since entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. Juno’s 12th science pass will be on May 24.