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First peek under clouds reveals Jupiter’s surprising depths

Colorful bands stretch hundreds of kilometers inward, Juno spacecraft data show

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9:00am, October 21, 2016
Jupiter

DEEP DIVE  Cloud bands seen on Jupiter extend hundreds of kilometers down into the atmosphere, as seen in this depiction of data obtained by the Juno spacecraft.

PASADENA, Calif. — Jupiter’s clouds have deep roots. The multicolored bands that wrap around the planet reach hundreds of kilometers down into the atmosphere, NASA’s Juno spacecraft reveals, providing an unprecedented peek into the giant planet’s interior.

“Whatever’s making those colors and stripes still exists pretty far down,” planetary scientist Scott Bolton, head of the Juno mission, said October 19 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. “That came as a surprise to many scientists.” Until now, researchers weren’t sure if Jupiter’s stripes were just blemishes atop the clouds or extended farther inward. The bands reach at least 350 to 400 kilometers beneath the cloud deck, Bolton reported in a news conference.

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