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NASA Juno: first 3D view of Jupiter’s atmosphere

Image: This illustration combines an image of Jupiter from the JunoCam instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft with a composite image of Earth to depict the size and depth of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (Credits: JunoCam Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; JunoCam Image processing by Kevin M. Gill (CC BY); Earth Image: NASA)

Edinburgh / Pasadena, California, 3 November 2021. – New findings from NASA’s Juno probe orbiting Jupiter highlight the belts and zones of the planet’s clouds, as well as its polar cyclones and the Great Red Spot, NASA said.

Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016 and has passed the planet 37 times so far, each time examining it with specialised instruments. The probe’s microwave radiometer (MWR) enables looking beneath the gas giant’s cloud tops and analysing the structure of its storms. The most famous of these storms is anticyclone Great Red Spot.

Results reveal that the cyclones are warmer on top, with lower atmospheric densities, and colder and denser at the bottom. Anticyclones, rotating in the opposite direction, are colder at the top and warmer at the bottom. The findings also indicate that some of these storms extend over 350 km below the cloud tops. According to measurements, the concentration of atmospheric mass within the Great Red Spot could also have a detectable gravity signature.

Jupiter’s east-west winds moving in opposite directions, separating the white and reddish bands can reach depths of 3,200 km. Juno’s MWR data show that ammonia gas travels up and down in alignment with the observed winds in the atmosphere.

Data also reveal that the belts and zones undergo a transition at around 65 km beneath Jupiter’s water clouds. Juno’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) has also determined that the previously discovered polygonal arrangements of giant cyclonic storms at the poles are very resilient. They remain in the same location as they all want to move poleward, but the middle cyclones push them back.

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