Images that have never been seen before by humans were taken by Juno spacecraft and revealed by NASA!
Juno successfully performed the first of its 36th flybys on August 27, when it passed at a distance of 4,200 kilometers above the largest planet of our solar system and captured the first-ever photos of its North Pole.
“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”
NASA scientists say that Juno delivered also a unique look of the southern region which has not been seen previously in such details, although Cassini was able to photograph both poles from different angles during its journey to Saturn back in 2000.
The photos of the southern aurora was taken when the probe was at about 94 500 kilometers below the planet. The spaceship’s Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) camera acquired the view at wavelengths ranging from 3.3 to 3.6 microns, which is the wavelengths of light emitted by excited hydrogen ions in the polar regions.
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“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome.
“These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before.
“And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora,” Adriani added.
Unlike the specific lines of the equatorial zone, Jupiter’s poles are “stained” with both clockwise and anti-clockwise thunderstorms that are similar to much larger versions of our terrestrial hurricanes.
Juno spacecraft is powered by solar energy and equipped with nine scientific instruments, which we will be used to map Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields and explore planet’s inner structure.
Data transmitted from Juno will help researchers better understand how Jupiter formed and evolved.
At the end of its mission, the spacecraft will be deliberately crashed into the planet’s atmosphere. Juno was programmed to do so to ensure that any microbe on Earth will not contaminate Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which astrobiologists believe is most likely to host extraterrestrial life.
Video: Juno capturing radiation emitted by Jupiter’s auroras