Category Archives: Juno

Plasma Sounds at Jupiter

The above display is a frequency-time spectrogram. The results in this figure show an increasing plasma density as Juno descended into Jupiter’s ionosphere during its close pass by Jupiter on 02 February 2017.

The intensity, or amplitude, of the waves is displayed based on the color scale shown on the right. The actual observed frequencies of these emissions approach 150 kHz. To get the sounds into a range we can hear, the 150 kHz signal was reduced 60 times. The momentary, nearly pure tones follow a scale related to the electron density, and are likely associated with an interaction between the Juno spacecraft and the charged particles in Jupiter’s ionosphere. The exact source of these discrete tones is currently being investigated.

Juno Mission Early Findings

The south pole of Jupiter as seen from the Juno spacecraft at a distance of 52,000 km / 32,000 miles and another great JunoCam contribution. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

We are getting a bit of information about the findings. Can’t wait for the details!

JUNO – Early science results from NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet’s surface than previously thought.

“We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating,” said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It was a long trip to get to Jupiter, but these first results already demonstrate it was well worth the journey.”

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. The findings from the first data-collection pass, which flew within about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of Jupiter’s swirling cloud tops on Aug. 27, are being published this week in two papers in the journal Science, as well as 44 papers in Geophysical Research Letters.

“We knew, going in, that Jupiter would throw us some curves,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “But now that we are here we are finding that Jupiter can throw the heat, as well as knuckleballs and sliders. There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter.”

Among the findings that challenge assumptions are those provided by Juno’s imager, JunoCam. The images show both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Another surprise comes from Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which samples the thermal microwave radiation from Jupiter’s atmosphere, from the top of the ammonia clouds to deep within its atmosphere. The MWR data indicates that Jupiter’s iconic belts and zones are mysterious, with the belt near the equator penetrating all the way down, while the belts and zones at other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures. The data suggest the ammonia is quite variable and continues to increase as far down as we can see with MWR, which is a few hundred miles or kilometers.

Prior to the Juno mission, it was known that Jupiter had the most intense magnetic field in the solar system. Measurements of the massive planet’s magnetosphere, from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG), indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected, and more irregular in shape. MAG data indicates the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss, about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and the lead for the mission’s magnetic field investigation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works.”

Juno also is designed to study the polar magnetosphere and the origin of Jupiter’s powerful auroras—its northern and southern lights. These auroral emissions are caused by particles that pick up energy, slamming into atmospheric molecules. Juno’s initial observations indicate that the process seems to work differently at Jupiter than at Earth.

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, and the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But, once every 53 days, its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a two-hour transit (from pole to pole) flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam public outreach camera snapping pictures. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the transit can take 1.5 days.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Bolton. “On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system — one that every school kid knows — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for NASA. The principal investigator is Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, in Denver, built the spacecraft.

Juno Completes Perijove 6

Juno has completed Perijove 6, the sixth orbit around the planet Jupiter.  The image above is from the previous close pass and was processed by J.P. Hershey one of many citizen scientists processing the images from Juno data.

This data is available to anyone; everyone is encouraged to try their hand at processing and submit their entries.  You can too, just go to NASA’s JunoCam page.  I have made some rather primitive attempts with rather primitive results.  The problem is my knowledge of the program I am using (The GIMP), I am more used to Photoshop CS.  The newest images, from Perijove 6 are already downloaded and available.  Interesting, the images are down and ready before too much of the details of the pass are.  Probably this is due to the pass timing with the weekend.  All seems good, I’m sure we’d know by now if something was amiss.

So, undaunted, I have downloaded a set of images and am trying again.




Jupiter’s Pearl

This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, highlights a swirling storm just south of one of the white oval storms on Jupiter.

The image was taken on March 27, 2017, at 2:12 a.m. PDT (5:12 a.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed a close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) from the planet.

Citizen scientist Jason Major enhanced the color and contrast in this image, turning the picture into a Jovian work of art. He then cropped it to focus our attention on this beautiful example of Jupiter’s spinning storms. — NASA

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major

I spent a good bit of time yesterday fooling around with JunoCam images. I put GIMP 2.8 to do the editing. I’m still in the learning stages, thankfully the GIMP is similar to Photoshop so that is helping but things will take a bit of time to get right.

I like this image, looks almost a water color.

The Magnificent Dark Spot

What are those dark spots made of? Where’s Captain Kirk or Doctor Who when you need them?

Seriously, incredible work by Citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko — the quality is top notch! I’m going to follow his work on the new images coming in from Juno very shortly.

The image above was downloaded from the 02 February pass. We will have images very shortly from the 27 March pass which was successful and was be only 4400 km / 2700 miles above the cloud tops of Jupiter.

We’ll be watching JunoCam for the latest.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko

Today is Perijove 5

Perijove 5 is today at 08:53 UTC / 04:53 ET.  That is when the Juno spacecraft will make a close approach to the planet Jupiter on this orbit if you didn’t know.  If you have been following the mission you know the orbital period was going to be much shorter but was changed after a engine control valve did not react as expected.

The current plan is no change to the shorter orbit.  Good idea, the science data is apparently just as good, so why risk a problem.

JunoCam targets this time around are:

Double SEB
Trevmation’s Dark Spot
The Big Red Stripe
String of Pearls + Between the Pearls + An Interesting Band Point
STB Spectre + The White Solid
Covenant 151016 as part of the polar timelapse sequence

You can get a preview of these on the Juno site.

Personally I’m all in for The Big Red Stripe!

The image above is from the JunoCam site observed by Ceres-00.  See it here.

Jupiter Cloud Detail

The way this image was processed gives a good look at the cloud structure, nice work. You can see the original version of this and other submissions at NASA’s JunoCam site.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft skimmed the upper wisps of Jupiter’s atmosphere when JunoCam snapped this image on Feb. 2 at 5:13 a.m. PT (8:13 a.m. ET), from an altitude of about 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above the giant planet’s swirling cloud tops.

Streams of clouds spin off a rotating oval-shaped cloud system in the Jovian southern hemisphere. Citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko reconstructed the color and cropped the image to draw viewers’ eyes to the storm and the turbulence around it. — NASA


Here’s an image from the latest Juno-Jupiter encounter. I fiddled with this image a little, most of the processing was done by Gerald Eichstädt. I ended up only darkening it up a bit to bring out the color more; Gerald did a fantastic job and I actually lot a little of the image. Fun trying though, give it a try for yourself at the JunoCam Image Processing page.

Credit : NASA / JPL / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt © PUBLIC DOMAIN

This Week @ NASA

Featuring the Juno’s  fly-by of Jupiter passing just 4345 km / 2700 miles above the clouds.


I still am working on the image processing thing, I’m having difficulties thanks to an apparent lapse of organization. LOL, meaning I can’t find the power supply to the laptop with photoshop.

The Little Red Spot

Below is a Juno spacecraft image of the northern part of Jupiter at just 16,000 km / 10,300 miles. The image was taken during the 11 December 2016 fly-by.

Juno is on a 53.4 day orbit and that makes the next close approach or perijove in just a few days on 02 February 2017.

All raw Juno images can be seen at the JunoCam site and the public is encouraged to download and process the images and even share your images back.

This particular image is from NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstaedt/John Rogers. Very nice work!

Here’s the NASA caption:
This stunning view of the high north temperate latitudes fortuitously shows NN-LRS-1, a giant storm known as a Little Red Spot (lower left). This storm is the third largest anticyclonic reddish oval on the planet, which Earth-based observers have tracked for the last 23 years. An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon with large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure. They rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. This Little Red Spot shows very little color, just a pale brown smudge in the center. The color is very similar to the surroundings, making it difficult to see as it blends in with the clouds nearby. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers processed the image and drafted the caption.