Juno reveals deep 3D structure of Jupiter’s massive storms

Enlarge / This view of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere from NASA’s Juno spacecraft includes several of the planet’s southern jet streams. (credit: NASA)

Nasa’s Juno mission, the solar-powered robotic explorer of Jupiter, has completed its five-year prime mission to reveal the inner workings of the Solar System’s biggest planet. Since 2016, the spacecraft has flown within a few thousand kilometers of Jupiter’s colorful cloud tops every 53 days, using a carefully selected array of instruments to peer deeper into the planet than ever before.

The most recent findings from these measurements have now been published in a series of papers, revealing the three-dimensional structure of Jupiter’s weather systems—including of its famous Great Red Spot, a centuries-old storm big enough to swallow the Earth whole.

Before Juno, decades of observations had revealed the famous striped appearance of Jupiter’s atmosphere, with white bands known as zones, and red-brown bands known as belts. The bands are separated by powerful winds zipping east and west, known as the jet streams, and are punctuated by gigantic vortices, such as the red spot.

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