Juno finds geometric storms on Jupiter

Jupiter has been known to be the stormiest and the largest planet out in the solar system. It has alternating dark and bright bands of winds and storms which were first discovered by Galileo. There have been studies conducted to study Jupiter’s atmosphere to know more about the planet. The latest pictures taken by Juno, NASA’s spacecraft reveal the hidden cyclones at the poles of the gas giant. The formation patterns of the storm have never been seen before.

One group uncovered a constellation of nine cyclones over Jupiter’s north pole and six over the south pole. The wind speeds exceed Category 5 hurricane strength in places, reaching 350 kmph.

“Until now, we only had a superficial understanding of them and have been able to relate these stripes to cloud features along Jupiter’s jets. Now, following the Juno gravity measurements, we know how deep the jets extend and what their structure is beneath the visible clouds”

Said Yohai Kaspi, Juno co-investigator from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and lead author of a Nature paper on Jupiter’s deep weather layer. Scientists were expecting to find Saturn-like six-sided storms on the poles but they found much more complex structures.

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They found octagon shaped grouping of cyclones over north pole and pentagon formations near the south pole. These cyclones are huge, with each diameter crossing a several thousand miles. These regions are not visible from Earth’s horizons because of the low axial tilt. The cyclical nature is down to the Coriolis effect. When mass moves on a rotating body, it experiences a force that acts perpendicular from its motion and from the axis of rotation.How they do not merge into one big-a** cyclone is beyond us right now.

“This is really an amazing result, and future measurements by Juno will help us understand how the transition works between the weather layer and the rigid body below,”

said Tristan Guillot, a Juno co-investigator from the Université Côte d’Azur, Nice, France, and lead author of the paper on Jupiter’s deep interior.

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