The most massive planet in the solar system – twice as many as all the other planets combined. This giant world is formed by the same cloud of dust and gas that has become our Sun and the other planets.
But Jupiter was the firstborn of our planetary family. As the first planet, Jupiter’s massive gravitational field probably formed the rest of the entire solar system.
Jupiter could play a role where all the planets line up in their orbits around the Sun … or not, because the asteroid belt is a vast region that could have been occupied by another planet if it weren’t for Jupiter’s gravity.
Gas giants like Jupiter can also eject entire planets from their solar systems or spiral into their stars.
The formation of Saturn several million years later probably spared Jupiter this fate.
Jupiter can also act as a “comet hunter.”
But in other periods of Earth’s history, Jupiter may have had the opposite effect, throwing asteroids in our direction – usually a bad thing, but it may also have led to water-rich rocks coming to Earth, leading to the blue planet, which we know today.
Jupiter is a window to the past of our own solar system – a past literally closed under the clouds of Jupiter, which is why Juno, the probe currently orbiting Jupiter, is so named. Juno, the wife of Jupiter in mythology, was able to peek through a cloud of clouds that Jupiter used to hide himself and his wrongdoings.
In this case, however, we are looking through the clouds of Jupiter in our own history. Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 5, 2016, after traveling nearly five years to reach the gas giant.
Falling into Jupiter’s gravitational well, Juno arrived at 210,000 km / h, one of the fastest speed records set by any man-made object.
Juno is in a highly eccentric 53-day orbit. During Perijove, or the closest orbital approach, Juno skimmed Jupiter at an altitude of 4,200 km and then traveled outward to 8.1 million km. Juno’s orbit is designed to move through the weaker regions of Jupiter’s incredibly powerful magnetic field.
Second in power only to the Sun itself, Jupiter’s magnetic field accelerates the Sun’s high-energy particles, creating powerful radiation bands that surround the planet – electronically emitting radiation.
In addition to its agile navigation, Juno’s electronics are hardened against radiation with its “radiation vault” – a 1 cm thick titanium shell that houses its sensitive scientific equipment.
One piece of equipment that dazzles us all on Earth is the JunoCam, an RGB color camera that makes visual images of Jupiter’s clouds while the probe buzzes the planet in just two hours, with each orbit spending as little time as possible in Jupiter’s radiation.
Most recently, Juno completed Perijove 29, and some of the photos were published by “Software Engineer, Planetary and Climate Data Renderer and Scientific Data Visualization Artist” Kevin Gill.
Kevin has an absolutely amazing Flickr page where he posts images he has processed from Juno, as well as other missions such as Saturn’s Cassini and the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Okay. Finally, why you came here: Here is Period 29 of Juno, edited by Kevin Gill (You can click on each image to see its full size).
You can also follow Kevin’s work on Twitter (@kevinmgill) and Instagram (@apoapsys).
JunoCam is not actually part of Juno’s core scientific mission. But the camera provides a key feature – allowing Juno to guide us on the journey.
Which I think is really spectacular. Sometimes astrophotography is considered more of an art than a science.
But like the astrophotographer himself, I believe that these images inspire future scientists, the general awareness of current scientific missions, and I hope they will publicly support the funding of science. Speaking of which, what has our science discovered about our giant from the giant worlds?
One of Jupiter’s greatest mysteries is what lies in his heart. Juno helped settle the current debate in the scientific community of the planet about how Jupiter was formed.
There were two possibilities: The first is that Jupiter began as a rocky world – a core about 10 times the mass of Earth. The gravity of this nucleus attracted the surrounding hydrogen and helium until the formation of Jupiter as we know it, that original rocky world buried beneath the raging vortex.
The second possibility is that the vortices in the rotating protoplanetary disk of our early solar system collapsed on themselves and Jupiter formed from them directly, without a rocky core. Both theories describe different conditions at the beginning of our solar system. Juno discovered something unknown, not a solid nucleus, but a “blurred” or “diluted” nucleus.
Jupiter appears to have formed from a rocky body, but instead of a nucleus located in the center of the planet, it has spread inside Jupiter.
The thinning of the nucleus is probably the result of a massive impact the size of a planet with Jupiter, which shattered the original nucleus and spread it through half the diameter of Jupiter.
Imagine attending an event like this – Jupiter devours a future planet in our solar system that we never knew. Revealed history of our place in space.
We also learned that the winds of Jupiter dive deep under the outer clouds, that the Great Red Spot is hundreds of kilometers deep, and we have seen giant cyclones at Jupiter’s North and South Poles that could engulf a country.
Jupiter is currently the brightest object in the night sky after sunset. If you have a clear sky and you can see it, look south!
Remember that this bright spot is a giant world, hundreds of times larger than Earth, millions of kilometers away, and yet potentially one of the key factors in your existence. From Jove, this is amazing.
This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.