Juno Arrives

Juno Arrives

While many Americans were celebrating Independence Day five years ago, a few were celebrating a milestone at another world: All stations on Junocord, we have the tone for burn cutoff on delta-v. Juno, welcome to Jupiter. (cheers)

The Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter ever since. It’s provided a peek into the interior of the solar system’s biggest planet. And it’s given us some impressive looks at Jupiter’s busy atmosphere.

Juno’s main mission was to measure Jupiter’s magnetic and gravitational fields. Those readings have shown that Jupiter’s interior is like a pat of butter that’s just been dropped into a skillet. It’s still a little firm in the middle, but the edges are gooey and indistinct. That could mean that another large body hit Jupiter long ago, stirring up its middle.

Juno also has taken a look at Jupiter’s poles. It found a ring of giant storms encircling each pole. The swirling storms at the north pole resemble a pan of cinnamon rolls just out of the oven. Those at the south pole are more spread out.

The craft has also measured the composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere, found lightning in the highest clouds, and listened in to radio waves from its northern and southern lights.

Juno’s mission was supposed to end this summer. But its run has been extended for another four years. And it’ll branch out to study Jupiter’s rings and moons — perhaps prompting future celebrations of new discoveries.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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