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NASA Releases New Images Of Gas Giant Jupiter

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U.S. space agency NASA releases a spectacular new imagery of the largest known planet in the solar system, Jupiter.

The Poles Of Jupiter

The new photos show the gaseous giant's poles. The image was taken by Juno spacecraft's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper instrument.

JIRAM probes Jupiter's weather layer to up to 50 to 70 kilometers under the planet's cloud tops. The instrument takes images of light that emerge from deep within the planet.

“Prior to Juno we did not know what the weather was like near Jupiter’s poles," says Alberto Adriani, co-investigator of Juno. "Now, we have been able to observe the polar weather up-close every two months."

The Cyclones At Jupiter's Poles

Adriani explained that the width of each of the northern cyclones is the distance between New York City and Naples, and the Southern cyclones are even more massive in comparison. The Cyclones have very violent winds, sometimes reaching a whopping speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

The co-investigator also added that the remarkable feature about the cyclones is that they are enduring and very close together. A feature such as it is something that is like nothing else that has been observed so far in the solar system.

The poles of Jupiter are an absolute contrast to the more familiar white and orange belts and zones that circle the gas giant at lower latitudes.

A central cyclone, which dominates the gas giant's north pole, is surrounded by eight circumpolar cyclones (as seen in the photo). The surrounding cyclones range in diameter from 4,000 to 4,600 kilometers across.

The south pole of Jupiter also has a central cyclone with five cyclones surrounding it, each of these measures around 5,600 to 7,000 kilometers in diameter.

"This composite represent radiant heat: the yellow (thinner) clouds are about 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-13° Celsius) in brightness temperature and the dark red (thickest) are around -181 degrees Fahrenheit (-118.33° Celsius)," describes NASA.

Nearly all the polar cyclones, at both the north and south pole of Jupiter, are so tightly packed that their spiral arms are in contact with the cyclone located just next to them. Interestingly, even though the Cyclones are spaced tightly, they still remain distinct and have morphologies that are individual. It is an observation that was made over seven months.

Adriani has questioned why the Cyclones do not merge, especially since in the case of Saturn, Cassini has observed that each pole has just one cyclonic vortex. The observation has led Adriani to believe that not all gaseous giant planets are created equal.

Adriani's observations were published in the journal Nature on March 8.

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