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Rediscovering Jupiter

Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System.  In 1610, when Galileo discovered the four large moons that revolve around Jupiter it revolutionized the way universe was conceived. It was a big support for the Copernican view which said that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

Jupiter is so enormous that it is estimated that it could hold 1,300 earths. Jupiter’s characteristics are more of a star or rather like a solar system in itself with four large moons and many smaller ones orbiting around it.

The colorful light and dark bands around Jupiter are caused by very strong winds blowing from east to west at a speed of more than 640 km per hour. These activities are recorded at the upper atmosphere of the Jupiter. The giant red spot is a hurricane like storm that has been raging for more than 300 years.

Juno, the NASA space probe sent on the 5th of August, 2011 to explore the story of how Jupiter was formed and evolved. The studies revealed that the light and dark bands that were initially thought to be at the upper atmosphere actually extend to a depth of approximately 3,000 km below its surface. These atmospheric processes also last longer than the atmospheric processes on Earth.

The findings of Juno help understand the mechanism that drives these strong jet streams. It is also seen that the gravity signature of the blowing jet streams is entangled with that of the gravity signal coming from the core of Jupiter.


By: Madhuchanda Saxena


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