Click for full image.
Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated and reduced to post here, was taken by Juno during its 28th close orbital fly-by of Jupiter, and then processed by citizen scientist Hemant Dara.
While not the first Juno image of the poles of Jupiter, this photo illustrates very well the evolution of the gas giant’s deep atmosphere as you move from the equator to the pole. From the equator to the high mid-latitudes the planet’s rotation, producing a day only 10 hours long, organizes that atmosphere into jet streams that form the bands that astronomers have spied from Earth since the first telescopes.
At the pole the influence of that rotation seems to wane, or at least influence the atmosphere differently, so that the storms seem to form randomly and incoherently.
The image also shows that there appear to be several types of storms at the south pole. Some appear as tight spirals, similar to hurricanes. Others appear chaotic, with no consistent shape, almost like clouds on Earth.
The processes that would explain all this are not yet understood, in the slightest, and won’t be until we get orbiters at Jupiter able to watch the atmosphere continuously, as we do here on Earth. Then it will be possible to assemble movies of the formation and dissipation of these storms, and begin (only begin) to decipher what causes them.
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