“The Giant Planet Story Is The Story Of The Solar System.”
— NASA, Juno Misson
Digging the secrets of our past, underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter hides secrets of the creation of our Solar System.
Juno spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011, and its arrival at Jupiter was on July 4, 2016. Aiming to understand our Solar System’s beginnings and the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
Theories about the Solar System formation begin with the collapse of the nebula (giant cloud of gas and dust) which formed the Sun. Similarly to the Sun, Jupiter is mostly composed of Hydrogen and Helium, so probably Jupiter captured a lot of the material left after our Star was born. How this happened is still unclear.
The following video is courtesy of JunoCam.
How Juno helps to find answers?
“Understanding the history of water across the early Solar System is a fundamental question, and Jupiter is going to give us the first clue”
— Scott Bolton, Jupiter’s Principal Investigator
Asides from learning more about Jupiter’s properties and mapping its magnetic and gravity fields, it is very important to determine how much water in Jupiter’s atmosphere exists as well as its composition and role of icy planetesimals or small proto-planets and with them the formation of Earth and other planets.
***Icy planetesimals are carriers of materials like water and carbon components which are essential blokes for life.
An adjacent part of this mission is JunoCam, an outreach instrument allowing the public to join this adventure by inviting astrophotographers to take pictures of Jupiter or for the general public to engage in discussions.
Juno will operate through NASA’s budget until July 2018 with a total of 12 science orbits; if needed it might have an extension.
ABOUT THE NAME
Juno name comes from Roman mythology. The mythical God Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his playful misbehavior but his wife the Goddess Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature.
NASA JUNO: THE GREAT RED SPOT
On July 10, 2017, humanity had its first up-close view of the monumental storm that has been raging Jupiter for centuries known as the Great Red Spot. It is as big as half of Earth’s wide and its roots penetrate about 200 miles (300 km) about 50 – 100 times deeper than Earth’s oceans. Scientists have not yet come up with a new understanding of Jupiter, “We just know enough to know we were wrong.” said Scott Bolton.
Before Juno, astronomers could only observe the swirling of the clouds on the tops of the Great Red Spot but no one knew what was happening below the clouds. An instrument of Juno measures microwave emissions and the region below the Great Red Spot was warmer and the deep heat likely explains the source of energy driving the storm and while it is still unknown how deep this goes Juno helps to build a gravity map of the Great Red Spot region that could identify movements of mass hundreds of miles farther down.