NASA Juno Cyclone Jupiter
NASA’s Juno spacecraft discovered a new cyclone at Jupiter’s south pole. This discovery was made on Nov. 3, 2019 during the 22nd flyby where the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring a mere 2,175 miles above its cloud tops. It also marked a victory for the mission team, whose collective efforts kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse. Read more for a video and additional information.

Upon Juno’s arrival in July 2016, its infrared and visible-light cameras discovered giant cyclones encircling the planet’s poles — nine in the north and six in the south. It took a while to gather the data to determine whether if they were a transient phenomenon, taking only weeks to develop and then ebb or were these cyclones, each nearly as wide as the continental US, more permanent fixtures. With each flyby, the data concluded that the five windstorms were swirling in a pentagonal pattern around a central storm at the south pole and that the system seemed stable.

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The combination of creativity and analytical thinking has once again paid off big time for NASA. We realized that the orbit was going to carry Juno into Jupiter’s shadow, which could have grave consequences because we’re solar powered. No sunlight means no power, so there was real risk we might freeze to death. While the team was trying to figure out how to conserve energy and keep our core heated, the engineers came up with a completely new way out of the problem: Jump Jupiter’s shadow. It was nothing less than a navigation stroke of genius. Lo and behold, first thing out of the gate on the other side, we make another fundamental discovery,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.


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