But where winds are blowing west, it's akin to slowing the spin of that part of Jupiter, changing the shape of the planet in different places. The new papers are the latest in a long chain of remarkable findings about the most massive planet in our solar system, adding some much-needed pieces to the puzzle.
Jupiter's visible surface is streaked with distinctive bright and dark bands, the result of gases being blown by winds that can reach speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour. But what lies beneath?
If the winds on the surface were shallow - 200 miles, for example - the asymmetry is small.
Two other papers looked at different physical parameters of Jupiter. No one knew for sure-until now. Gravity measurements collected by Juno during its close flybys of the planet have now provided an answer.More news: McDonald's flips its golden arches to celebrate women
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Measurement of Jupiter's asymmetric gravity field. They further discovered that the planet's deep interior is composed of a liquid mixture of hydrogen and helium that acts like a solid. The planet's clouds, with their intricate eddies and swirls, look like something out of Van Gogh's Starry Night (which was actually mankinds first image of the Andromeda Galaxy).
These pictures, which were taken on Jupiter's north and south poles, reveal the massive wind towers that dominate not only its upper atmosphere but also stretch deep into the planet. "People have been fighting about this since before I was born", says Jonathan Fortney, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who wrote an accompanying commentary for the papers. It is expected to continue its mission until July, later this year. As NASA explains, the jet streams that create the eye-catching patterns originate far below what we are able to see from its cloud tops, and the cyclones are unlike anything observed before in the Solar System, including here on Earth. Essentially, the resulting force of Jupiter's rotation around its axis should produce a perfectly symmetric "bulge" around the equator. Any asymmetry would be an unmistakable sign of complex internal structures, such as large flows of material deep in the planet's atmosphere.
The study, authored by scientists from an global group of institutions including the University of Chicago, is published in March 8's Nature as part of a set of four papers dedicated to new observations from the Juno spacecraft. By measuring the difference in frequencies between transmitted and received signals, Iess was able to infer minute changes in the probe's speed, caused by variation in Jupiter's gravitational field. The antenna beams radio waves from Earth, which Juno's transponder receives and sends back. All discerned from some 750 million kilometers away.
The fourth and final paper, led by Alberto Adriani from INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali in Italy, reports that the continent-sized cyclones at Jupiter's poles - discovered by Juno previous year - are not a chaotic jumble, but instead form polygonal patterns.