Juno Finds Seven Swirling Cyclones on Jupiter

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We’ve All Seen The Big Red Spot. Now We Can See Seven More Massive Cyclones on Jupiter in the South Pole Region.

Juno has proven to be quite the “Little Spacecraft That Could.” A few months ago NASA’s Jupiter-studying probe had to pull off a death-defying evasive maneuver. Had that not worked, the probe would have had to face a 12-hour trip across Jupiter’s very large, very cold shadow. That trip likely would have killed the mission, draining most if not all of the spacecraft’s power before it found sunlight again. Now it turns out that brave maneuver brought us photos of seven cyclones on Jupiter—including one newly discovered one.

We brought you news of the fancy flying back in October.

The Juno team faced a nearly lose/lose situation at that time. Juno was on course for the shadow, which, we’ve established, would have been almost certainly a death nail. On the other hand, in order to avoid the shadow, the team needed to design and execute a nearly 11-hour burn of the crafts reaction-control engines. The maneuver worked, and because it did, we get to enjoy some amazing new images of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere.

Seven Cyclones on Jupiter

Seven Cyclones on Jupiter

It’s hard not to admire the beautiful symmetry of these gigantic storms. It’s also hard not to be thankful that a new one was pretty much discovered by accident. The new storm (the smaller one in the lower right) is similar in size to Texas, which makes the entire cluster roughly the size of North America. Still, when one considers that Jupiter itself is 1,300 times more voluminous than the Earth, a North-America sized spot is relatively small. In fact, by way of comparison, the Great Red Spot could fit two or three Earth-sized planets inside it.

Juno’s Continuing Mission

Launched in 2011, Juno arrived and began orbiting Jupiter back in 2016. Jupiters’ composition, along with its gravitational and magnetic fields, serve as the primary focus of the mission. However, the craft looks at many other points of data. And of course, it takes a lot of pictures. All of this knowledge will help astronomers to understand the formation of not only Jupiter but other gas giants in our solar system. The more we know about the formation of these titans of our neck of the woods, the more we know about the formation of our solar system and the entire cosmos. So Godspeed, Juno. Carry on, our wayward… eh hem… daughter. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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