NASA’s Juno probe mission would get extended till 2021

Mindy Sparks
June 9, 2018

The first time you approach the planet, the spacecraft has recorded 377 of the lightning discharges, such as those that occur on Earth. Specifically, the mission's main objective is to try and determine how much water is in the planet's atmosphere and to measure its composition, temperature, cloud patterns, and map its magnetic and gravity fields.

The mystery remained unsolved for nearly 40 years because every spacecraft that flew by Jupiter during this period - Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini - recorded radio waves that didn't match those produced by lightning on Earth.

"No matter what planet you're on, lightning bolts act like radio transmitters - sending out radio waves when they flash across a sky". Discovery of rapid whistlers close to Jupiter implying lightning rates similar to those on Earth.

This artist's concept of lightning distribution in Jupiter's northern hemisphere incorporates a JunoCam image with artistic embellishments.

In a second Juno lightning paper published today in Nature Astronomy, Ivana Kolmašová of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and colleagues, present the largest database of lightning-generated low-frequency radio emissions around Jupiter (whistlers) to date.

The findings of the research have been just disclosed in the latest research paper of scientific journal - Nature, which explain about the source of the results and how did the astronomers explored them from the Juno to resolve the odd lightning mystery of Jupiter. Many theories tried to explain the phenomenon, but none of them could ever visualize traction as the answer.

Although the Sun's rays heat up Jupiter's equator more than the poles - just as they do on Earth - the scientists believe that this actually stabilises Jupiter's atmosphere, preventing air warmed by the planet's interior from rising.

The gas giant's lightning storms appear to be concentrated near the planet's poles with very little electrical activity near the equatorial belt. The spacecraft came nearly 50 times closer to the planet than Voyager 1 ever did, flying "closer to Jupiter than any other spacecraft in history", states Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who was involved in both studies.

Jupiter's receives 25 times less sunlight than Earth, as its orbit is five times farther from the Sun than Earth's. Well, long before we had Juno orbiting Jupiter, scientists were able to record the lightning on this planet only within the kilohertz range. This varying radio frequency suggests that the lightning from the two planets are wildly different.

The Juno mission is set out to explore Jupiter's structure, mass, core, and origin.

This bounty of data is attributed to the close range at which Juno surveilled the gas giant.

Brown said these findings could help scientists' understand how energy flows on Jupiter. 2018. Prevalent lightning sferics at 600 megahertz near Jupiter's poles. And according to NASA, this is exactly what allows lightning to be produced.

NASA has extended the duration of its Juno space probe mission until 2021.

Juno has made all of this research possible.

The principal investigator of Juno, Scott Bolton at the Southwest Research Institute, said, "NASA has approved Juno to continue through 2022 to finish all of our originally planned science".

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