Friday October 19, 2018

NASA’s Juno spacecraft detects “Monster” Cyclones on Jupiter’s Surface

Along with the fierce storms, the researchers saw a huge river of ammonia gas extending from Jupiter's deep atmosphere down to its interior

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Juno Probe has been sending images of Jupiter. Pixabay
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US, May 26, 2017: Scientists looking at the first pictures of the planet Jupiter sent by the NASA probe Juno were shocked at what they saw: monster cyclones, hundreds of kilometers wide, tearing across the planet’s north and south poles.

The scientists said the poles are nothing like the planet’s familiar placid and colorful equatorial region.

This image made available by NASA on May 25, 2017, and made from data captured by the Juno spacecraft shows Jupiter's south pole. The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter.
This image made available by NASA on May 25, 2017, and made from data captured by the Juno spacecraft shows Jupiter’s south pole. The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. VOA

“That’s the Jupiter we’ve all known and grown to love,” Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute, an applied research and development organization in San Antonio, Texas, said in an article released Thursday in the journal Science. “And when you look from the pole, it looks totally different. … I don’t think anybody would have guessed this is Jupiter.”

Bolton called the findings “Earth-shattering. Or, should I say, Jupiter-shattering.

FILE - NASA's enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter shows a Jovian "galaxy" of swirling storms in this image captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft, Feb. 2, 2017, at an altitude of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops.
FILE – NASA’s enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter shows a Jovian “galaxy” of swirling storms in this image captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, Feb. 2, 2017, at an altitude of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. VOA

Along with the fierce storms, the researchers saw a huge river of ammonia gas extending from Jupiter’s deep atmosphere down to its interior. They said they thought the ammonia might be part of what’s causing the huge storms.

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NASA had launched Juno in 2011, and it reached Jupiter’s orbit last year. The scientists said that Juno’s next fly-by would come in July, when it will take pictures of the planet’s trademark Great Red Spot — a huge, hurricane-like storm that experts say has been raging for hundreds of years. (VOA)

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Chandra Observatory By NASA Back in Action

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance

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NASA's Chandra Observatory back in action. Pixabay

NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, is back in action after suffering a glitch due to the failure of the gyroscope and going into safe mode last week.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode, according to the US space agency.

“The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode,” NASA said in a statement late on Monday.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve.

Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week, NASA said.

On October 10, Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, in which the observatory is put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun.

Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of five years. In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years.

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October. Flickr

The US space agency said that it was also continuing to work towards resuming science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope that on October 5, entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) being used to point and steady the telescope failed.

Gyroscopes help spacecraft maintain proper orientation.

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Till that time, science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

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Besides Chandra and Hubble, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is also almost out of fuel. Kepler has found about 70 per cent of all known alien worlds to date.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October.

The space agency’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity too have faced issues of late. (IANS)