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4 surprising things we just learned about Jupiter

Latest Juno spacecraft results fill in details about Jupiter’s interior and polar storms

By
1:00pm, March 7, 2018
Jupiter's south pole

STORMY SKIES  A quintet of cyclones encircles a sixth cyclone at Jupiter’s south pole in this mosaic of infrared images from the Juno spacecraft. Color represents heat coming from below: Yellow is where clouds are thin; red is where they are thick.

Bit by bit, Jupiter is revealing its deepest, darkest secrets.

The latest findings are in from the Juno spacecraft. And they unveil the roots of the planet’s storms, what lies beneath the opaque atmosphere and a striking geometric layout of cyclones parked around the gas giant’s north and south poles.

“We’re at the beginning of dissecting Jupiter,” says Juno mission leader Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. And the picture that’s emerging — still just a sketch — topples many preconceived notions. The results appear in four papers in the March 8 Nature.

Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4, 2016, on a mission to map the planet’s interior (SN: 6/25/16, p. 16). The probe loops around once every 53 days, traveling on an elongated orbit that takes the spacecraft from pole to pole and as close

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