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New surprises from Jupiter and Saturn

Credit: CC0 Public DomainThe latest data is sent back by Juno and Cassini spacecraft from giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn have challenged many current theories on how the planets in our solar system form and behave. The detailed magnetic and gravity data has been "invaluable but also confusing," said David Stevenson of Caltech, who will present an update on both missions this week at the 201 9 American Society of American Society of Boston in Boston. He will also attend a press conference describing the work. Information for logging in to watch and ask questions at a distance is included at the end of this press release. "Although there are still puzzles to explain, this already clarifies some of our ideas on how planets form, how they make magnetic fields and how the winds blow," Stevenson said. Cassini circled Saturn for 13 years before his dramatic dive into the planet's interior in 2017, while Juno checked Jupiter for two and a half years. Juno success as a mission to Jupiter is a tribute to innovative design. The instruments are powered by solar energy alone and protected to cope with the harsh radiation environment. Stevenson says a microwave sensor was introduced on Juno was a good decision. "Using microwaves to figure out the deep atmosphere was right, but unconventional, choice," he said. Microwave data has surprised the researchers, in particular by showing that the atmosphere is evenly mixed, something that conventional theories do not predict. Video of Jupiter's magnetic field.…



Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The latest data is sent back by Juno and Cassini spacecraft from giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn have challenged many current theories on how the planets in our solar system form and behave.

The detailed magnetic and gravity data has been “invaluable but also confusing,” said David Stevenson of Caltech, who will present an update on both missions this week at the 201

9 American Society of American Society of Boston in Boston. He will also attend a press conference describing the work. Information for logging in to watch and ask questions at a distance is included at the end of this press release.

“Although there are still puzzles to explain, this already clarifies some of our ideas on how planets form, how they make magnetic fields and how the winds blow,” Stevenson said.

Cassini circled Saturn for 13 years before his dramatic dive into the planet’s interior in 2017, while Juno checked Jupiter for two and a half years.

Juno success as a mission to Jupiter is a tribute to innovative design. The instruments are powered by solar energy alone and protected to cope with the harsh radiation environment.

Stevenson says a microwave sensor was introduced on Juno was a good decision.

“Using microwaves to figure out the deep atmosphere was right, but unconventional, choice,” he said. Microwave data has surprised the researchers, in particular by showing that the atmosphere is evenly mixed, something that conventional theories do not predict.

Video of Jupiter’s magnetic field. Credit: Caltech

“Any explanation for this must be unorthodox,” says Stevenson.

Researchers explore weather events that concentrate significant amounts of ice, liquids and gas in different parts of the atmosphere as possible explanations, but the question is far from sealed.

Other instruments aboard Juno, gravity and magnetic sensors, have also sent back confusing data. The magnetic field has spots (areas with anomalous high or low magnetic field) and also a striking difference between the northern and southern half-shields.

“It’s unlike what we’ve seen before,” says Stevenson.

Gravity data has confirmed that in the middle of Jupiter, which is at least 90 percent hydrogen and helium in mass, there is heavier element that amounts to more than 10 times the earth’s mass. However, they are not concentrated in a core but mixed in with the hydrogen above, most of which are in the form of a metal liquid.

The information has provided rich information on the outer parts of both Jupiter and Saturn. Plenty of heavier elements in these regions are still uncertain, but the outer layers play a greater than expected role in the generation of the two planet’s magnetic fields. Experiments that mimic the pressure and temperatures of the gas planes are now needed to help the researchers understand the processes that are going on.

For Stevenson, who has studied gas giants for 40 years, the puzzles are a hallmark of a good mission. 19659005] “A successful mission is one that surprises us. Science would be sad if it just confirmed what we were thinking before,” he said.


Explore further:
Juno missionaries discuss Jupiter’s mysteries

More information:
The 2019 meeting of the March meeting “What Juno and Cassini have told about Giant Planet interiors”, by David Stevenson, will take place on Wednesday, March 6 at. 14.30 CET. in room 258C in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Summary: meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR19/Session/P62.1

Provided by:
American physical society

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