Science

NASA Re-Plans Juno's Jupiter Mission

NASA Re-Plans Juno's Jupiter Mission”

But for Jupiter, which orbits the Sun more than five times the distance that Earth does, and receives 25 times less sunlight, the atmosphere receives most of its heat from within the planet itself.

But the radio signals slightly differed from what researchers have recorded on Earth, raising questions about the nature of lightning on Jupiter. The spacecraft will continue to orbit the planet till the early 2020s and is set to begin its 13th flyby of Jovian cloud tops next month.

"No matter what planet you're on, lightning bolts act like radio transmitters - sending out radio waves when they flash across a sky", Shannon Brown of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the lead author of the latest work said in a statement.

In Jupiter, lightning occurs mostly near the poles and is more common in the northern hemisphere. Researchers analysed more than 1,600 "whistlers"-emissions linked to the phenomena-captured by Juno in a Nature Astronomy paper also published Wednesday".

The findings of the research have been just disclosed in the latest research paper of scientific journal - Nature, which explain about the source of the results and how did the astronomers explored them from the Juno to resolve the unusual lightning mystery of Jupiter. This, in spite of Jupiter's equator playing host to the solar system's largest, most ferocious storm.

"Many theories were offered up to explain it, but no one theory could ever get traction as the answer", Brown said of the problem.

They do provide some warmth, heating up Jupiter's equator more than the poles - just as they heat up Earth.

Data from everyone's favourite Jupiter probe has revealed that, contrary to previous measurements, the gas giant's lightning does occur in megahertz frequencies, and occurs much more frequently than thought - but it also seems to be localised to the planet's poles. The signals were showing up in the kilohertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, but not the megahertz range as is the case with Earth lightning.

In a release by NASA, the agency explains how Juno, which is right now orbiting the gas giant is using one of its sensitive instruments - Microwave Radiometer Instrument (MWR). Thanks passed to it by the data becomes possible to study the gas giant's atmosphere.

These differences can be attributed to the different way heat is distributed across the two planets.

This means that the sun's rays are powerful enough to heat Jupiter's equator, which creates stability in the region's upper atmosphere and prevents warm air from rising up from within.

"Our unique orbit allows our spacecraft to fly closer to Jupiter than any other spacecraft in history, so the signal strength of what the planet is radiating out is a thousand times stronger", Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, said. This is much higher than Voyager previously detected and similar to rates found on Earth.

"This will help us better understand the composition, general circulation and energy transport on Jupiter". And according to NASA, this is exactly what allows lightning to be produced.

The decision to fund the Juno mission through fiscal year 2022 was made after an "independent panel of experts" ruled that it was on track to "achieve its science objectives and is already returning spectacular results".



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