Finally we are getting an unprecedented look at our solar system’s big planet: Jupiter. And so far it has made many astronomers scratch their head.
The Juno probe from the American Space Agency has been able to look at the differences in gravity as it flies around the big cloud planet’s atmosphere. Because one of the great space mysterious of our age, is how in the world does Jupiter hold together as a structure?
Remember Jupiter is a gas planet and has been awed by mankind since antiquity. In fact, the planet was seen as a god during the Roman times. It is two and half times bigger than all the other planets in the solar system combined(not the sun of course!) And on average if you looked into the night sky, it will most likely be the third brightest object after the Moon and Venus.
Finally, scientists have been given some tantalizing clues about how this huge banded gas planet holds itself together. And the main answer is a huge wind that blows deep into the planet. In fact, the wind-sculpted bands extend about 3,000 km down. After this point, the hydrogen that makes up Jupiter is so compressed it finally turns into a metal.
And what lurks even deeper in the planet? The debate still goes on if the planet actually has a rocky core.
And where is all that wind coming from then? Well, the wind just keeps blowing. In fact, there are eight documented cyclones rotating at all times around Jupiter’s north pole. And another five cyclones rotating around the south pole. This would really not be a very good place for a peaceful vacation, that is for sure! How the storms keep brewing without any rest or never merge into one another remains completely unknown.
As the mission continues we should have an even greater understanding. Scientists are hoping the probe will be able to orbit at least 34 times, meaning the mission should continue all the way into 2021. The great thing about this probe is that as it is going around the whole planet, scientists are seeing parts of Jupiter that are just not visible from Earth.