NASA’s juno discovered the Jupiter Water Mystery, NASA’s Juneau mission delivers its first scientific results about the amount of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Juno’s results, recently published in Nature Astronomy, estimate that water at the equator makes up about 0.25% of the molecules in Jupiter’s atmosphere – almost three times that of the sun.
This is also the first discovery of an abundance of gas giant water after the Galileo mission in 1995. According to the agency, Jupiter may be very dry compared to the sun (the comparison is not based on liquid water, but on the presence of its components). Oxygen and hydrogen, i.e. those in the sun). NASA’s juno discovered the Jupiter Water Mystery.
An exact estimate of the total amount of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere has been on the wish list of planetary scientists for decades: This gas giant figure is a very missing piece of the puzzle for the creation of our solar system.
Jupiter is probably the first planet to form and contain most of the gas and dust that does not exist in the sun.
The leading theories for its formation are based on the amount of water absorbed by the planet. An abundance of water is also important for the gas giant meteorologist (how the wind flows on Jupiter) and its internal structure.
While lightning – a phenomenon usually caused by humidity – has been discovered on Jupiter by Voyager and other spacecrafts which show the presence of water, the exact estimate of the amount of deep water in Jupiter’s atmosphere is unknown. NASA’s juno discovered the Jupiter Water Mystery.
Before the date Galileo stopped sending 57 minutes after his descendants from Jovian in December 1995, it sent spectrometer measurements of the amount of water in the gas giant’s atmosphere to a depth of about 120 kilometers, where atmospheric pressure reached about 320 pounds per square inch (22 bar).
Data scientists are worried about finding ten times less water than expected.
Even more surprising: measure the amount of water measured by the Galileo probe at maximum depth, far below the theory that the atmosphere must be well mixed. In a well-mixed atmosphere, the water content in this region is constant and more representative of the global average. In other words, they are more representative of the water on this planet. NASA’s juno discovered the Jupiter Water Mystery.
Combined with infrared maps obtained from terrestrial telescopes, the results show that the investigation mission might not succeed by examining the dry, warm meteorological site on Jupiter.
The Juno Microwave Radiometer (MWR), a new tool for exploring planetary space, monitors Jupiter from above using six antennas that measure atmospheric temperatures at several depths simultaneously.
Microwave radiometers use the fact that water absorbs certain wavelengths of microwave radiation, the same trick that microwaves use to heat food quickly.
The measured temperature is used to limit the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, because both molecules absorb microwave radiation.
Initially, they focused on the equatorial region, because the atmosphere there seems to be more mixed even in depth than in other regions. From its orbital circumference, the radiometer is able to obtain data from a much deeper depth into Jupiter’s atmosphere than the Galileo probe – 150 kilometers (93 miles) where the pressure reaches about 33 bar (480 psi). NASA’s juno discovered the Jupiter Water Mystery.
The 53-day Juneau orbit slowly moves north as intended, bringing more of Jupiter’s northern hemisphere into sharper focus with each flight. The team of scientists is excited to see how changes in atmospheric water content depend on latitude and region and which poles that are rich in cyclones can tell them about global water abundance from gas giants.
Jupiter’s 24th scientific flight to Jupiter takes place on February 17. The next scientific flight will take place on April 10, 2020.
“Every scientific field is a discovery event,” Bolton said. “Jupiter always has something new. Juneau teaches us an important lesson: we must get closer and join a planet to test our theory.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California manages the Juneau mission Chief Investigator Scott Bolton of the San Antonio Institute for Southwestern Research.
Juneau is part of NASA’s New Frontier program, run by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The Italian space agency is contributing to the Jovian Auroral Mapper infrared and Ka-band translation system. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver builds and operates spacecraft.