Tuesday December 11, 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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Wintertime Ice Growth in Arctic Sea Slows Long-Term Decline: NASA

The switch will happen once the sea ice is less than 1.6 feet thick at the beginning of winter, or its concentration

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Wintertime ice growth in Arctic sea slows long-term decline: NASA. Flcikr

While sea ice in the Arctic continues to be on the decline, a new research from the US Space agency NASA suggests that it is regrowing at faster rates during the winter than it was a few decades ago.

The findings showed that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70 per cent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

But at the same time, that sea ice is vanishing quicker than it has ever been observed in the satellite record, it is also thickening at a faster rate during winter.

This increase in growth rate might last for decades, explained the researchers, in the paper to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

However, this does not mean that the ice cover is recovering, though. Just delaying its demise.

“This increase in the amount of sea ice growing in winter doesn’t overcome the large increase in melting we’ve observed in recent decades,” said lead author Alek Petty, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
However, this does not mean that the ice cover is recovering, though. Just delaying its demise. Flickr

“Overall, thickness is decreasing. Arctic sea ice is still very much in decline across all seasons and is projected to continue its decline over the coming decades,” she added.

To explore sea ice growth variability across the Arctic, the team used climate models and observations of sea ice thickness from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite.

They found that in the 1980s, when Arctic sea ice was on average 6.6 feet thick in October, about 3.3 extra feet of ice would form over the winter.

This rate of growth may continue to increase, and in the coming decades, we could also have an ice pack that would on average be only around 3.3 feet thick in October, but could experience up to five feet of ice growth over the winter.

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However, by the middle of the century, the strong increases in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures will outweigh the mechanism that allows ice to regrow faster, and the Arctic sea ice cover will decline further, Petty said.

The switch will happen once the sea ice is less than 1.6 feet thick at the beginning of winter, or its concentration — the percentage of an area that is covered in sea ice — is less than 50 per cent, she noted. (IANS)