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Jupiter is still *really* weird: A new monster storm has formed around its south pole

16 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
Jupiter is still *really* weird: A new monster storm has formed around its south pole
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If there's one thing you should know about Jupiter, it’s that it's weird.

I mean really, really weird.

We know this because we've seen it close up. NASA's Juno probe entered into a long, looping, elliptical orbit around the ridiculously huge planet on 4 July 2016, taking about 53 days to orbit it once. It goes out as far as 8 million kilometers from Jupiter, but when it drops down on the planet it drops down: It plunges over the south pole of Jupiter at a height of a little over 4,000 km above the cloud tops, screaming past at a whopping 200,000 kilometers per hour!

The purpose of the mission is to investigate the upper atmosphere and environment around Jupiter, to help us understand the gas giant's interior. Jupiter is 70,000 km in radius, but we only see the very tops of the clouds with visible light. One camera on board is JIRAM, the Juno InfraRed Auroral Mapper. It's sensitive to far-infrared light, which you can think of as heat. Jupiter's deeper atmosphere is warmer, and that heat leaks out, so JIRAM gives us clues about what's happening deeper down.

When Juno flew over the planet's south pole during ...

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