NASA scientists working on Juno mission had the chance to examine the planet Jupiter up close. In their analyses, they observed unusually large amounts of energy spinning within the polar regions of the planet forming Earth-like auroras. However, scientists didn’t expect to find a different origin to this spectacular phenomenon.
Juno Mission Helped Scientists Understand that Auroras on Jupiter Are Different from Those on Earth
Barry Mauk and his team collected numerous data on Jupiter. They used instruments based on energetic-pattern detectors and ultraviolet spectrographs to record various aspects about this far-away gas giant. The team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory noticed how powerful electric potentials coupled with the magnetic field.
The results are electrons at the Jovian atmosphere that move at 400,000 electron volts. This speed is up to 30 times higher than those of the largest auroras scientists ever observed on Earth.
Northern Europe, Alaska, and Canada host the spectacular auroras at only several thousands of volts. Nonetheless, scientists were aware that Jupiter’s auroras are among the most powerful such natural events in the solar system. However, the mysterious piece of the puzzle here is that Jupiter’s potentials are not leading to the largest auroras as it happens on Earth.
Cracking The Origin of Jupiter Auroras Will Lead to Groundbreaking Advancements in Planetary Physics
Mauk is sure that cracking the identity of these powerful energetic particles would help them better understand the radiation belts that embrace the planet. So far, the Juno mission encountered several issues due to encounteres with these areas.
On top of that, this body of knowledge can improve spacecraft and astronaut protection when it comes to challenging space environments. The comparison between Jupiter and Earth will also break new ground in planetary physics.
Juno spacecraft has been floating around the gas giant since 2016. It will continue to collect data and learn more about its origins, atmosphere, and structure. On top of that, scientists have not finished yet deciphering recent data. Thanks to them, NASA can better understand how auroras act under different sources of influence.
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