Tuesday August 21, 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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NASA is Confident Regarding Mars Opportunity Rover

However, even after the first time engineers hear from Opportunity, it would take time to fully recover, NASA said

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Optimistic about Mars Opportunity rover, says NASA. Pixabay

There’s reason to be optimistic about Mars Opportunity rover that has been silent since June 10, after getting caught in a massive dust storm on the Red Planet that cut off solar power for the nearly 15-year-old rover, NASA said in a statement.

According to the scientists, the global dust storm is “decaying” — meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it. As a result, skies might soon clear enough for the solar-powered rover to recharge and attempt to “phone home.”

Studies on the state of batteries and temperatures at the location showed that they were relatively in good health before the storm, and there is not likely to be too much degradation.

Moreover, because dust storms tend to warm the environment — and the storm happened in summer — the rover should have stayed warm enough to survive, the US space agency noted.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are now looking for signs for recovery efforts.

According to them, Opportunity will need a tau — the veil of dust blowing around — of less than 2.0 before the solar-powered rover will be able to recharge its batteries.

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Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are now looking for signs for recovery efforts. Flickr

The higher the tau, the less sunlight is available; the last tau measured by Opportunity was 10.8 on June 10. To compare, an average tau for its location on Mars is usually 0.5.

Several times a week, the engineers are using NASA’s Deep Space Network, which communicates between planetary probes and Earth, to attempt to talk with Opportunity.

The massive DSN antennas ping the rover during scheduled “wake-up” times, and then search for signals sent from Opportunity in response.

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In addition, JPL’s radio science group uses special equipment on DSN antennas that can detect a wider range of frequencies. Each day, they record any radio signal from Mars over most of the rover’s daylight hours, then search the recordings for Opportunity’s “voice.”

However, even after the first time engineers hear from Opportunity, it would take time to fully recover, NASA said. (IANS)