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  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on July 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , JunoCam, NASA Juno, The Great Red Spot   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Spots Jupiter’s Great Red Spot” Great Citizen Science 

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    JPL-Caltech

    July 12, 2017
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011 / 818-354-6278
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    NASA/Juno

    1
    This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major

    2
    This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Kevin Gill using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin Gill

    3
    This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt

    Images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark, veinous clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval. The JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno mission snapped pics of the most iconic feature of the solar system’s largest planetary inhabitant during its Monday (July 10) flyby.

    1
    JunoCam. Malin Space Science Systems, Inc. (MSSS), has delivered the camera it has developed for NASA’s 2011 Juno mission to Jupiter. This camera, called Junocam, is designed to take hundreds of color images of the giant planet, some at resolutions never before seen, as the spacecraft orbits Jupiter, coming within 5000 km of the gas giant’s cloudtops

    The images of the Great Red Spot were downlinked from the spacecraft’s memory on Tuesday and placed on the mission’s JunoCam website Wednesday morning.

    “For hundreds of years scientists have been observing, wondering and theorizing about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Now we have the best pictures ever of this iconic storm. It will take us some time to analyze all the data from not only JunoCam, but Juno’s eight science instruments, to shed some new light on the past, present and future of the Great Red Spot.”

    As planned by the Juno team, citizen scientists took the raw images of the flyby from the JunoCam site and processed them, providing a higher level of detail than available in their raw form. The citizen-scientist images, as well as the raw images they used for image processing, can be found at:

    https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing

    “I have been following the Juno mission since it launched,” said Jason Major, a JunoCam citizen scientist and a graphic designer from Warwick, Rhode Island. “It is always exciting to see these new raw images of Jupiter as they arrive. But it is even more thrilling to take the raw images and turn them into something that people can appreciate. That is what I live for.”

    Measuring in at 10,159 miles (16,350 kilometers) in width (as of April 3, 2017) Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth. The storm has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be shrinking.

    All of Juno’s science instruments and the spacecraft’s JunoCam were operating during the flyby, collecting data that are now being returned to Earth. Juno’s next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on Sept. 1.

    Juno reached perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) on July 10 at 6:55 p.m. PDT (9:55 p.m. EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno was about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno had covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers), and was passing directly above the coiling, crimson cloud tops of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft passed about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the clouds of this iconic feature.

    Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

    Early science results from NASA’s Juno mission portray the largest planet in our solar system as a turbulent world, with an intriguingly complex interior structure, energetic polar aurora, and huge polar cyclones.

    “These highly-anticipated images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot are the ‘perfect storm’ of art and science. With data from Voyager, Galileo, New Horizons, Hubble and now Juno, we have a better understanding of the composition and evolution of this iconic feature,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “We are pleased to share the beauty and excitement of space science with everyone.”

    JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. More information on the Juno mission is available at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/juno

    http://missionjuno.org

    The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

    https://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno

    More information on the Great Red Spot can be found at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/jupiter-s-great-red-spot-a-swirling-mystery

    https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jupiter-s-great-red-spot-likely-a-massive-heat-source

    More information on Jupiter can be found at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/jupiter

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 6:28 am on July 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Juno, Planetary studies   

    From NASA: “Earth-based Views of Jupiter to Enhance Juno Flyby” 

    NASA image
    NASA

    June 30, 2017

    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Guy Webster
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6278
    guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

    Deb Schmid
    Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
    210-522-2254
    dschmid@swri.org

    Yuko Kakazu
    Subaru Telescope, Hilo, Hawaii
    808-934-5960
    kakazu@naoj.org

    Peter Michaud
    Gemini Observatory, Hilo, Hawaii
    808-974-2510
    pmichaud@gemini.edu

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    1
    This animation shows Jupiter as revealed by a powerful telescope and a mid-infrared filter sensitive to the giant planet’s tropospheric temperatures and cloud thickness. It combines observations made on Jan. 14, 2017, using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. Credits: NAOJ/NASA/JPL-Caltech

    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA

    Telescopes in Hawaii have obtained new images of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot, which will assist the first-ever close-up study of the Great Red Spot, planned for July 10. On that date, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will fly directly over the giant planet’s most famous feature at an altitude of only about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers).

    2
    This composite, false-color infrared image of Jupiter reveals haze particles over a range of altitudes, as seen in reflected sunlight. It was taken using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii on May 18, 2017, in collaboration with observations of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno mission. Credits: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Gemini/North telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    See the full article here .

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:45 am on January 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Experiment resolves mystery about wind flows on Jupiter, , NASA Juno,   

    From UCLA: “Experiment resolves mystery about wind flows on Jupiter” 

    UCLA bloc

    UCLA

    January 23, 2017
    Katherine Kornei

    1
    Views Jupiter’s south pole (upper left and lower right) and images from the lab experiment to re-create the planet’s winds (upper right and lower left). Jonathan Aurnou.

    Jupiter’s colorful, swirling winds known as “jets” have long puzzled astronomers.

    One mystery has been whether the jets exist only in the planet’s upper atmosphere — much like the Earth’s own jet streams — or whether they plunge into Jupiter’s gaseous interior. If the latter is true, it could reveal clues about the planet’s interior structure and internal dynamics.

    Now, UCLA geophysicist Jonathan Aurnou and collaborators in Marseille, France, have simulated Jupiter’s jets in the laboratory for the first time. Their work demonstrates that the winds likely extend thousands of miles below Jupiter’s visible atmosphere.

    This research is published online today in Nature Physics.

    “We can make these features in a computer, but we couldn’t make them happen in a lab,” said Aurnou, a UCLA professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences, who has spent the past decade studying computer models of swirling winds. “If we have a theoretical understanding of a system, we should be able to create an analog model.”

    The challenge to re-creating swirling winds in the lab was building a model of a planet with three key attributes believed to be necessary for jets to form: rapid rotation, turbulence and a “curvature effect” that mimics the spherical shape of a planet. Previous attempts to create jets in a lab often failed because researchers couldn’t spin their models fast enough or create enough turbulence, Aurnou said.

    The breakthrough for Aurnou’s team was a new piece of laboratory equipment. The researchers used a table built on air bearings that can spin at 120 revolutions per minute and support a load of up to 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds), meaning that it could spin a large tank of fluid at high speed in a way that mimics Jupiter’s rapid rotation.

    The scientists filled an industrial-sized garbage can with 400 liters (about 105 gallons) of water and placed it on the table. When the container spun, water was thrown against its sides, forming a parabola that approximated the curved surface of Jupiter.

    [No image of experimental equipment is available.]

    “The faster it went, the better we mimicked the massively strong effects of rotation and curvature that exists on planets,” Aurnou said. But the team found that 75 revolutions per minute was a practical limit: fast enough to force the liquid into a strongly curved shape but slow enough to keep water from spilling out.

    While the can was spinning, scientists used a pump below its false floor to circulate water through a series of inlet and outlet holes, which created turbulence — one of the three critical conditions for the experiment. That turbulent energy was channeled into making jets, and within minutes the water flow had changed to six concentric flows moving in alternating directions.

    “This is the first time that anyone has demonstrated that strong jets that look like those on Jupiter can develop in a real fluid,” Aurnou said.

    The researchers inferred that the jets were deep because they could see them on the surface of the water, even though they had injected turbulence at the bottom.

    The researchers are looking forward to testing their predictions with real data from Jupiter, and they won’t have to wait long: NASA’s Juno space probe is orbiting Jupiter right now, collecting data about its atmosphere, magnetic field and interior.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    Initial results from the Juno mission were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco, and Aurnou was there.

    “The Juno data from the very first flyby of Jupiter showed that structures of ammonia gas extended over 60 miles into Jupiter’s interior, which was a big shock to the Juno science team,” Aurnou said. “UCLA researchers will be playing an important role in explaining the data.”

    This year, Aurnou and his team will use supercomputers at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, to simulate the dynamics of Jupiter’s interior and atmosphere.

    ANL Cray Aurora supercomputer
    Cray Aurora supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility
    MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    They’ll also continue their work at the laboratory in Marseilles to make the spinning table simulation more complex and more realistic.

    One goal is to add a thin, stable layer of fluid on top of the spinning water, which would function like the thin outer layer of Jupiter’s atmosphere that’s responsible for the planet’s weather. The researchers believe this will help them simulate features like Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Geophysics Program, the French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche and the Aix-Marseille University Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on August 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Juno   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Jupiter’s Extended Family? A Billion or More” 

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    JPL-Caltech

    August 26, 2016
    News Media Contact
    Preston Dyches
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-7013
    preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Pat Brennan
    NASA Exoplanet Program

    1
    Comparing Jupiter with Jupiter-like planets that orbit other stars can teach us about those distant worlds, and reveal new insights about our own solar system’s formation and evolution. (Illustration) Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around.

    Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

    It turns out the inverse is also true — we can turn our instruments and probes to our own backyard, and view Jupiter as if it were an exoplanet to learn more about those far-off worlds. The best-ever chance to do this is now, with Juno, a NASA probe the size of a basketball court, which arrived at Jupiter in July to begin a series of long, looping orbits around our solar system’s largest planet. Juno is expected to capture the most detailed images of the gas giant ever seen. And with a suite of science instruments, Juno will plumb the secrets beneath Jupiter’s roiling atmosphere.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    It will be a very long time, if ever, before scientists who study exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars — get the chance to watch an interstellar probe coast into orbit around an exo-Jupiter, dozens or hundreds of light-years away. But if they ever do, it’s a safe bet the scene will summon echoes of Juno.

    “The only way we’re going to ever be able to understand what we see in those extrasolar planets is by actually understanding our system, our Jupiter itself,” said David Ciardi, an astronomer with NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute (NExSci) at Caltech.

    2

    Not all Jupiters are created equal

    Juno’s detailed examination of Jupiter could provide insights into the history, and future, of our solar system. The tally of confirmed exoplanets so far includes hundreds in Jupiter’s size-range, and many more that are larger or smaller.

    The so-called hot Jupiters acquired their name for a reason: They are in tight orbits around their stars that make them sizzling-hot, completing a full revolution — the planet’s entire year — in what would be a few days on Earth. And they’re charbroiled along the way.

    But why does our solar system lack a “hot Jupiter?” Or is this, perhaps, the fate awaiting our own Jupiter billions of years from now — could it gradually spiral toward the sun, or might the swollen future sun expand to engulf it?

    Not likely, Ciardi says; such planetary migrations probably occur early in the life of a solar system.

    “In order for migration to occur, there needs to be dusty material within the system,” he said. “Enough to produce drag. That phase of migration is long since over for our solar system.”

    Jupiter itself might already have migrated from farther out in the solar system, although no one really knows, he said.

    Looking back in time

    If Juno’s measurements can help settle the question, they could take us a long way toward understanding Jupiter’s influence on the formation of Earth — and, by extension, the formation of other “Earths” that might be scattered among the stars.

    “Juno is measuring water vapor in the Jovian atmosphere,” said Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This allows the mission to measure the abundance of oxygen on Jupiter. Oxygen is thought to be correlated with the initial position from which Jupiter originated.”

    If Jupiter’s formation started with large chunks of ice in its present position, then it would have taken a lot of water ice to carry in the heavier elements which we find in Jupiter. But a Jupiter that formed farther out in the solar system, then migrated inward, could have formed from much colder ice, which would carry in the observed heavier elements with a smaller amount of water. If Jupiter formed more directly from the solar nebula, without ice chunks as a starter, then it should contain less water still. Measuring the water is a key step in understanding how and where Jupiter formed.

    That’s how Juno’s microwave radiometer, which will measure water vapor, could reveal Jupiter’s ancient history.

    “If Juno detects a high abundance of oxygen, it could suggest that the planet formed farther out,” Quintana said.

    A probe dropped into Jupiter by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 1995 found high winds and turbulence, but the expected water seemed to be absent. Scientists think Galileo’s one-shot probe just happened to drop into a dry area of the atmosphere, but Juno will survey the entire planet from orbit.

    NASA Galileo
    NASA/Galileo

    The chaotic early years

    Where Jupiter formed, and when, also could answer questions about the solar system’s “giant impact phase,” a time of crashes and collisions among early planet-forming bodies that eventually led to the solar system we have today.

    Our solar system was extremely accident-prone in its early history — perhaps not quite like billiard balls caroming around, but with plenty of pileups and fender-benders.

    “It definitely was a violent time,” Quintana said. “There were collisions going on for tens of millions of years. For example, the idea of how the moon formed is that a proto-Earth and another body collided; the disk of debris from this collision formed the moon.

    Theia collision with Earth
    Theia collision with Earth. William K. Hartmann

    And some people think Mercury, because it has such a huge iron core, was hit by something big that stripped off its mantle; it was left with a large core in proportion to its size.”

    Part of Quintana’s research involves computer modeling of the formation of planets and solar systems. Teasing out Jupiter’s structure and composition could greatly enhance such models, she said. Quintana already has modeled our solar system’s formation, with Jupiter and without, yielding some surprising findings.

    “For a long time, people thought Jupiter was essential to habitability because it might have shielded Earth from the constant influx of impacts [during the solar system’s early days] which could have been damaging to habitability,” she said. “What we’ve found in our simulations is that it’s almost the opposite. When you add Jupiter, the accretion times are faster and the impacts onto Earth are far more energetic. Planets formed within about 100 million years; the solar system was done growing by that point,” Quintana said.

    “If you take Jupiter out, you still form Earth, but on timescales of billions of years rather than hundreds of millions. Earth still receives giant impacts, but they’re less frequent and have lower impact energies,” she said.

    Getting to the core

    Another critical Juno measurement that could shed new light on the dark history of planetary formation is the mission’s gravity science experiment. Changes in the frequency of radio transmissions from Juno to NASA’s Deep Space Network will help map the giant planet’s gravitational field.

    NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia
    “NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia, radio telescopes on watch.

    Knowing the nature of Jupiter’s core could reveal how quickly the planet formed, with implications for how Jupiter might have affected Earth’s formation.

    And the spacecraft’s magnetometers could yield more insight into the deep internal structure of Jupiter by measuring its magnetic field.

    “We don’t understand a lot about Jupiter’s magnetic field,” Ciardi said. “We think it’s produced by metallic hydrogen in the deep interior. Jupiter has an incredibly strong magnetic field, much stronger than Earth’s.”

    Mapping Jupiter’s magnetic field also might help pin down the plausibility of proposed scenarios for alien life beyond our solar system.

    Earth’s magnetic field is thought to be important to life because it acts like a protective shield, channeling potentially harmful charged particles and cosmic rays away from the surface.

    4
    Earth’s magnetic field, NASA

    “If a Jupiter-like planet orbits its star at a distance where liquid water could exist, the Jupiter-like planet itself might not have life, but it might have moons which could potentially harbor life,” he said.

    An exo-Jupiter’s intense magnetic field could protect such life forms, he said. That conjures visions of Pandora, the moon in the movie “Avatar” inhabited by 10-foot-tall humanoids who ride massive, flying predators through an exotic alien ecosystem.

    Juno’s findings will be important not only to understanding how exo-Jupiters might influence the formation of exo-Earths, or other kinds of habitable planets. They’ll also be essential to the next generation of space telescopes that will hunt for alien worlds. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will conduct a survey of nearby bright stars for exoplanets beginning in June 2018, or earlier.

    NASA/TESS
    NASA/TESS

    The James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2018, and WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope), with launch anticipated in the mid-2020s, will attempt to take direct images of giant planets orbiting other stars.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    NASA/WFIRST
    NASA/WFIRST

    “We’re going to be able to image planets and get spectra,” or light profiles from exoplanets that will reveal atmospheric gases, Ciardi said. Juno’s revelations about Jupiter will help scientists to make sense of these data from distant worlds.

    “Studying our solar system is about studying exoplanets,” he said. “And studying exoplanets is about studying our solar system. They go together.”

    To learn more about a few of the known exo-Jupiters, visit:

    https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/alien-worlds/strange-new-worlds

    See the full article here .

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    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 2:37 pm on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Application Specific Integrated Circuits, , , , NASA Juno   

    From Goddard: “Tiny Microchips Enable Extreme Science” 

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    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    July 12, 2016
    Lina Tran
    kathalina.k.tran@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    The Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, are integral to JEDI’s investigation of unique space environments like that surrounding Jupiter. They will measure the speed, energy and position of particles and photons in space with incredible accuracy.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng

    As NASA spacecraft explore deeper into space, onboard computer electronics must not only be smaller and faster, but also be prepared for extreme conditions. A prime example is shown in these images: a family of Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, microchips specifically designed to measure the particles in space – the very stuff that can create radiation hazards for satellite computers.

    These tiny, radiation-resistant chips play a crucial role in one of the instruments nestled inside the radiation-shielded electronics vault on NASA’s Juno spacecraft – which entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    The microchips aboard Juno are part of the Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, or JEDI, a cutting-edge instrument that will measure the composition of the immense magnetic system surrounding the planet, called a magnetosphere.

    2
    The image shows the magnetic field of Jupiter based on a realistic model[1] and co–rotation enforcing currents.[2] Positions of the Galilean moons are also shown. Ruslik0

    The ASICs measure the speed, energy and position of particles and photons in space with time accuracy down to a fraction of a billionth of a second. The largest chip is barely the size of a saltine cracker. Without these chips, satellite electronics would be much heavier and require substantially more shielding and power – potential problems for any satellites traveling into space.

    “Before my work, you had electronics that were very big – over two pounds,” said Nikolaos Paschalidis, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Paschalidis conceived of and first developed ASICs when he worked at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “A great deal of my early work was on miniaturization of space instruments and systems with advanced technologies like electronics onto a microchip.”

    Paschalidis is the chief technologist for heliophysics at Goddard. Heliophysics is the study of the sun and how it affects the particles and energy in space. Far from being empty, the space surrounding planets is filled with fast moving particles and a complex electromagnetic system often driven by the sun. Near Jupiter, this system includes intense aurora and giant radiation belts surrounding the gas giant. It’s the job of JEDI, led by Barry Mauk at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, to observe this complex system.

    Better understanding of a planet’s space environment helps us understand how it was formed and continues to evolve. Moreover, it helps us learn more about how to prepare spacecraft to travel through such harsh radiation conditions.

    Juno isn’t the first spacecraft to carry these microchips. ASICs have been incorporated in many other NASA missions to study a diverse range of space environments from close to the sun to the heart of Earth’s radiation belts to the edge of the solar system. However, the Juno mission required a significant advance in ASIC performance over prior spaceflight electronics: The Juno ASICs were specially developed to be radiation-hardened, enabling them to withstand the harsh, radiative environment of Jupiter’s magnetosphere where high-energy particles constantly bombard objects and deposit large doses of radiation.

    Goddard Heliophysicist Waits Nearly 10 Years for Pluto Flyby

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

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  • richardmitnick 5:57 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Juno   

    From JPL: “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft in Orbit Around Mighty Jupiter” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    July 4, 2016
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne C. Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    1
    The Juno team celebrates at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after receiving data indicating that NASA’s Juno mission entered orbit around Jupiter. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at JPL, is seen at the center hugging JPL’s acting director for solar system exploration, Richard Cook. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4.

    NASA/Juno
    Juno

    “Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

    Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Denver. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

    “This is the one time I don’t mind being stuck in a windowless room on the night of the Fourth of July,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission team did great. The spacecraft did great. We are looking great. It’s a great day.”

    Preplanned events leading up to the orbital insertion engine burn included changing the spacecraft’s attitude to point the main engine in the desired direction and then increasing the spacecraft’s rotation rate from 2 to 5 revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it..

    The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began on time at 8:18 p.m. PDT (11:18 p.m. EDT), decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 mph (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter. Soon after the burn was completed, Juno turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

    “The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from JPL. “Jupiter orbit insertion was a big step and the most challenging remaining in our mission plan, but there are others that have to occur before we can give the science team members the mission they are looking for.”

    Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.

    “Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”

    Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

    The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

    More information on the Juno mission is available at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on June 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Juno   

    From Hubble: “Hubble Captures Vivid Auroras in Jupiter’s Atmosphere” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    June 30, 2016
    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
    011-49-176-6239-7500
    mjaeger@partner.eso.org

    Jonathan Nichols
    University of Leicester, Leicester, England, United Kingdom
    011-44-116-252-5049
    jdn4@leicester.ac.uk

    Astronomers are using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. This observation program is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.

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    Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colorful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot. Now astronomers have focused on another beautiful feature of the planet, using the ultraviolet capabilities of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

    The data are from the HST proposals: 2014 WFC3/UVIS Data: 13631 PI: A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), G. Orton (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), J. Rogers (University of Cambridge, UK), and M. Wong and I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley); and 2016 STIS Data: 14105 PI: J. Nichols (University of Leicester), J. Clarke (Boston University), G. Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), S. Cowley, E. Bunce, and T. Stallard (University of Leicester), S. Badman (Lancaster University), D. Grodent, B. Bonfond, and A. Radioti (Universite de Liege), R. Gladstone (Southwest Research Institute), F. Bagenal (University of Colorado, Boulder), J. Connerney (NASA/GSFC), D. McComas (Princeton University), B. Mauk (JHU/APL), W. Kurth (University of Iowa), I. Yoshikawa (University of Tokyo), M. Fujimoto (ISAS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), C. Tao (NICT, Japan), and T. Kimura (ISAS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

    Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)
    Release Date: June 30, 2016
    Color: This image is a composite of separate exposures acquired by the STIS and WFC3/UVIS instruments. Several filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are:
    STIS CCD blue
    WFC3/UVIS F395N (395 nm) blue
    WFC3/UVIS F502N (502 nm) green
    WFC3/UVIS F631N (631 nm) red

    The extraordinary vivid glows shown in the new observations are known as auroras. They are created when high-energy particles enter a planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas. As well as producing beautiful images, this program aims to determine how various components of Jupiter’s auroras respond to different conditions in the solar wind, a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun.

    This observation program is perfectly timed as NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently in the solar wind near Jupiter and will enter the orbit of the planet in early July 2016.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    While Hubble is observing and measuring the auroras on Jupiter, Juno is measuring the properties of the solar wind itself — a perfect collaboration between a telescope and a space probe.

    “These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen,” said Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, and principal investigator of the study. “It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a fireworks party for the imminent arrival of Juno.”

    To highlight changes in the auroras, Hubble is observing Jupiter almost daily for several months. Using this series of far-ultraviolet images from Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, it is possible for scientists to create videos that demonstrate the movement of the vivid auroras, which cover areas bigger than the Earth.

    Not only are the auroras huge in size, they are also hundreds of times more energetic than auroras on Earth. And, unlike those on Earth, they never cease. While on Earth the most intense auroras are caused by solar storms — when charged particles rain down on the upper atmosphere, excite gases, and cause them to glow red, green, and purple — Jupiter has an additional source for its auroras.

    The strong magnetic field of the gas giant grabs charged particles from its surroundings.

    3
    Jupiter’s magnetosphere

    This includes not only the charged particles within the solar wind, but also the particles thrown into space by its orbiting moon Io, known for its numerous and large volcanos.

    The new observations and measurements made with Hubble and Juno will help to better understand how the sun and other sources influence auroras. While the observations with Hubble are still ongoing and the analysis of the data will take several more months, the first images and videos are already available and show the auroras on Jupiter’s north pole in their full beauty. In support of the Juno mission, Hubble will continue to monitor Jupiter auroras several times a month for the duration of the Juno mission.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

    See the full article here .

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    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on June 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Juno   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Juno Peers Inside a Giant” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    June 29, 2016
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Scientists will use the twin magnetometers aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft to gain a better understanding about how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its long anticipated arrival at Jupiter on July 4. Coming face-to-face with the gas giant, Juno will begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries surrounding our solar system’s largest planet, including the origin of its massive magnetosphere.

    Magnetospheres are the result of a collision between a planet’s intrinsic magnetic field and the supersonic solar wind. Jupiter’s magnetosphere — the volume carved out in the solar wind where the planet’s magnetic field dominates –extends up to nearly 2 million miles (3 million kilometers).

    2

    If it were visible in the night sky, Jupiter’s magnetosphere would appear to be about the same size as Earth’s full moon. By studying Jupiter’s magnetosphere, scientists will gain a better understanding about how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. They also hope to determine whether the planet has a solid core, which will tell us how Jupiter formed during the earliest days of our solar system.


    Access mp4 video here .

    In order to look inside the planet, the science team equipped Juno with a pair of magnetometers. The magnetometers, which were designed and built by an in-house team of scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will allow scientists to map Jupiter’s magnetic field with high accuracy and observe variations in the field over time.

    “The best way to think of a magnetometer is like a compass,” said Jack Connerney, deputy principal investigator and head of the magnetometer team at Goddard. “Compasses record the direction of a magnetic field. But magnetometers expand on that capability and record both the direction and magnitude of the magnetic field.”

    The magnetometer sensors rest on a boom attached to one of the solar arrays, placing them about 40 feet (12 meters) from the body of the spacecraft. This helps ensure that the rest of the spacecraft does not interfere with the magnetometer.

    However, the sensor orientation changes in time with the mechanical distortion of the solar array and boom resulting from the extremely cold temperatures of deep space. This distortion would limit the accuracy of the magnetometer measurements if not measured.

    To ensure that the magnetometers retain their high accuracy, the team paired the instruments with a set of four cameras. These cameras measure the distortion of the magnetometer sensors in reference to the stars to determine their orientation.

    “This is our first opportunity to do very precise, high-accuracy mapping of the magnetic field of another planet,” Connerney said. “We are going to be able to explore the entire three-dimensional space around Jupiter, wrapping Jupiter in a dense net of magnetic field observations completely covering the sphere.”

    One of the mysteries the team hopes to answer is how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. Scientists expect to find similarities between Jupiter’s magnetic field and that of Earth.

    Magnetic fields are produced by what are known as dynamos — convective motion of electrically conducting fluid inside planets. As a planet rotates, the electrically susceptible liquid swirls around and drives electric currents, inducing a magnetic field. Earth’s magnetic field is generated by liquid iron in the planet’s core.

    “But with Jupiter, we don’t know what material is producing the planet’s magnetic field,” said Jared Espley, Juno program scientist for NASA Headquarters, Washington. “What material is present and how deep down it lies is one of the questions Juno is designed to answer.”

    The observations made by Juno’s magnetometers will also add to our understanding of Earth’s dynamo, the source of our planet’s magnetic field, which lies deep beneath a magnetized layer of rocks and iron.

    Imagine Earth’s crust strewn with refrigerator magnets as you try to peer beneath the surface to observe the dynamo. The magnetization of Earth’s crust will skew your measurements of the magnetic field.

    “One of the reasons that the Juno mission is so exciting is because we can map Jupiter’s magnetic field without having to look through the crustal magnetic fields, which behave like a jumble of refrigerator magnets,” Connerney said. “Jupiter has a gaseous envelope about it made of hydrogen and helium that gives us a clear and unobstructed view of the dynamo.”

    These observations will also add to the general understanding of how dynamos generate magnetic fields, including here on Earth.

    “Any time we understand anything about another planet, we can take that knowledge and apply it to our knowledge about our own planet,” Espley said. “We’ll be looking at Juno’s observations in a big-picture perspective.”

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft.

    For more information about the Juno mission, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 12:04 pm on June 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Juno   

    From COSMOS: “Juno’s epic journey to probe Jupiter’s secrets” 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS

    27 June 2016
    Belinda Smith


    Access mp4 video here .

    Jupiter, king of the Roman gods, wanted to hide a few indiscretions. So, the story goes, he shrouded himself in cloudy veils “to hide his mischief” from his wife Juno (who also happened to be his sister).

    But, to Jupiter’s dismay, it didn’t work – Juno was able to see through those veils to her husband/brother’s true nature.

    Like its namesake, NASA’s Juno spacecraft, due to arrive at Jupiter on 4 July, aims to peer through the planet’s clouds and uncover the secrets within – along with how the solar system formed.

    The fifth planet from the sun, Jupiter is the most massive non-sun object in the solar system. Take out the sun, and you can fit everything else in the solar system into Jupiter – all the planets, dwarf planets, comets, asteroids and dust.

    It can even be thought of as its own mini solar system. Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered four of the gas giant’s moons in the 17th century. We now know of 64 confirmed moons and a whole host of comets captured by its intense gravitational pull.

    In fact, Jupiter is made of the same stuff as the sun – mostly hydrogen and helium – and if it was 80 times more massive, it would have ignited and started blazing as a star.

    1
    Jupiter and its familiar Great Red Spot, a storm that’s raged for more than 400 years. Credit NASA

    Some planetary scientists think Jupiter and other gas giants, such as Saturn, helped “shepherd” the rocky planets into the inner solar system – and maybe knocked a few into the sun.

    But despite its immense size, we know very little about Jupiter. What’s deep inside? When did it form – and how has it moved around the solar system? What drives its rich tapestry of white, brown and orange flurries that course around the planet every nine hours?
    Enter: Juno

    While Jupiter has been visited by eight NASA missions – from Pioneer 10, which flew past in December 1973, to New Horizons, which hung around for five months in 2007 – Juno will circle the gas giant for around a year and a half, diligently mapping its entire surface over more than 30 orbits.

    Its suite of 29 sensors will feed nine instruments:

    • A gravity/radio science system (Gravity Science)
    • A six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition (MWR)
    • A vector magnetometer (MAG)
    • Plasma and energetic particle detectors (JADE and JEDI)
    • A radio/plasma wave experiment (Waves)
    • An ultraviolet imager/spectrometer (UVS)
    • An infrared imager/spectrometer (JIRAM)
    • Colour JunoCam.

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    Credit: NASA / JPL-CALTECH

    The planet’s gravitational field will give clues to its internal composition. Does it have a rocky centre? And if so, how big is it?

    Radio waves will penetrate the optically opaque ammonia clouds to determine what lies beneath. (Radio telescopes on Earth which do something similar but on a planet-wide scale will be observing Jupiter at the same time.)

    The particles, electric field and plasma that shrouds the planet will determine how its magnetic field is connected to its atmosphere to produce incredible northern and southern lights. These auroras will be probed by ultraviolet and infrared cameras to ascertain the chemical reactions going on in the gases.

    And of course, a high-resolution camera will send back the most detailed views of Jupiter yet.
    The journey counts too

    When Juno slots itself into Jupiter orbit on 4 July, it marks the end of an extraordinary 2.8-billion-kilometre journey through the solar system.

    The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, by an Atlas V551 rocket in August 2011.

    When in space, the 3.5 x 3.5-metre spacecraft unfurled its nine-metre solar panels like petals to begin its self-powered journey to Jupiter, which orbits the sun around four times farther out than Earth.

    Instead of heading in the gas giant’s direction, though, it took off towards the sun, looping behind it, and heading back through the inner solar system towards Earth.

    Why? For a speed boost.

    Two years after launch, Juno slipped behind Earth in a “gravitational slingshot” manoeuvre. As we hurled around the sun at around 30 kilometres per second, Juno was dragged along. At just the right moment it flung out of Earth’s gravitational grasp but retained its momentum, boosting its speed by nearly four kilometres per second.

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    How a gravity assist works. Earth’s point of view is represented on the left, and the sun’s point of view is on the right. Credit NASA / JPL-CALTECH

    Just after launch as it headed away from Earth, Juno’s trio of solar panels generated about 14 kilowatts of power. But Jupiter, which lies five times further from the sun as Earth, only receives around 4% of Earth’s sunshine.

    So Juno’s solar panels will only pump out a measly 486 watts of power when it reaches its destination. Its engines, though, will spring to life and thrusters will control orientation and trajectory.

    Two lithium-ion batteries will keep it going when Juno passes on the dark side of Jupiter (and won’t see any sunlight at all).
    Planet scanner

    Juno won’t circle Jupiter in a regular, circular orbit. The planet’s immense magnetic field, probably due to a massive ocean of highly pressurised electricity-conducting “metallic” hydrogen deep inside, clings to electrons and ions to form an intense radiation belt.

    This radiation balloons up to three million kilometres towards the sun and tapers into a tail extending more than a billion kilometres behind – as far as Saturn’s orbit.

    If Juno spent much time in the worst of the radiation, it would spell the end of the spacecraft’s instruments.

    So Juno will take a highly elliptical route – skirting as close as 4,300 kilometres from Jupiter’s cloud tops, then flying past the moon Callisto’s orbit of 1.9 million kilometres, minimising the amount of time spent in the radiation danger zone.

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    Juno’s highly elliptical orbits will keep it out of the worst of Jupiter’s radiation. Credit NASA / JPL-CALTECH

    The spacecraft’s centimetre-thick titanium walls will also help shield its instruments. And despite each orbit’s huge distance, it will need only 14 days to complete a circuit.

    Like the Pioneer spacecraft before it, Juno will spin as it makes its loops around Jupiter.

    On the two-hour trip from pole to pole, the spacecraft will rotate around 400 times. Not only does this stabilise the spacecraft and make it easier to control, it allows the sensors equal time to sweep across their field of view and take measurements of the planet below.

    One-way ticket

    Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Juno, once it’s completed its mapping task, will plunge into its two-year companion to be crushed by Jupiter’s immense pressure.

    The gas giant will have a bit of a wait until its next visitor, though. The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission is due to launch in 2022 and arrive in 2030.

    But it will spend around three years observing the planet and its three largest moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

    And so Jupiter’s cloudy veil will be pulled back further.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:21 pm on June 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Juno   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft to Risk Jupiter’s Fireworks for Science” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    June 16, 2016
    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    david.c.agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter.

    Launched in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, traveling from pole to pole in about an hour, and coming within 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) of the cloud tops at closest approach.

    Juno’s primary goal is to improve our understanding of Jupiter’s formation and evolution. The spacecraft will spend a little over a year investigating the planet’s origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno’s study of Jupiter will help us to understand the history of our own solar system and provide new insight into how planetary systems form and develop in our galaxy and beyond.

    On July 4, NASA will fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of the cloud tops of our solar system’s largest planet.


    Access mp4 video here .

    On July 4, NASA will fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of the cloud tops of our solar system’s largest planet.

    As of Thursday, Juno is 18 days and 8.6 million miles (13.8 million kilometers) from Jupiter. On the evening of July 4, Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, placing it into a polar orbit around the gas giant. During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

    “At this time last year our New Horizons spacecraft was closing in for humanity’s first close views of Pluto,” said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now, Juno is poised to go closer to Jupiter than any spacecraft ever before to unlock the mysteries of what lies within.”

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft
    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    A series of 37 planned close approaches during the mission will eclipse the previous record for Jupiter set in 1974 by NASA’s Pioneer 11 spacecraft of 27,000 miles (43,000 kilometers).

    NASA Pioneer 11
    NASA/Pioneer 11

    Getting this close to Jupiter does not come without a price — one that will be paid each time Juno’s orbit carries it toward the swirling tumult of orange, white, red and brown clouds that cover the gas giant.

    “We are not looking for trouble, we are looking for data,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Problem is, at Jupiter, looking for the kind of data Juno is looking for, you have to go in the kind of neighborhoods where you could find trouble pretty quick.”

    The source of potential trouble can be found inside Jupiter itself. Well below the Jovian cloud tops is a layer of hydrogen under such incredible pressure it acts as an electrical conductor. Scientists believe that the combination of this metallic hydrogen along with Jupiter’s fast rotation — one day on Jupiter is only 10 hours long — generates a powerful magnetic field that surrounds the planet with electrons, protons and ions traveling at nearly the speed of light. The endgame for any spacecraft that enters this doughnut-shaped field of high-energy particles is an encounter with the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.

    “Over the life of the mission, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of over 100 million dental X-rays,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But, we are ready. We designed an orbit around Jupiter that minimizes exposure to Jupiter’s harsh radiation environment. This orbit allows us to survive long enough to obtain the tantalizing science data that we have traveled so far to get.”

    Juno’s orbit resembles a flattened oval. Its design is courtesy of the mission’s navigators, who came up with a trajectory that approaches Jupiter over its north pole and quickly drops to an altitude below the planet’s radiation belts as Juno races toward Jupiter’s south pole. Each close flyby of the planet is about one Earth day in duration. Then Juno’s orbit will carry the spacecraft below its south pole and away from Jupiter, well beyond the reach of harmful radiation.

    While Juno is replete with special radiation-hardened electrical wiring and shielding surrounding its myriad of sensors, the highest profile piece of armor Juno carries is a first-of-its-kind titanium vault, which contains the spacecraft’s flight computer and the electronic hearts of many of its science instruments. Weighing in at almost 400 pounds (172 kilograms), the vault will reduce the exposure to radiation by 800 times of that outside of its titanium walls.

    Without the vault, Juno’s electronic brain would more than likely fry before the end of the very first flyby of the planet. But, while 400 pounds of titanium can do magical things, it can’t do it forever in an extreme radiation environment like that on Jupiter. The quantity and energy of the high-energy particles is just too much. However, Juno’s special orbit allows the radiation dose and the degradation to accumulate slowly, allowing Juno to do a remarkable amount of science for 20 months.

    “Over the course of the mission, the highest-energy electrons will penetrate the vault, creating a spray of secondary photons and particles,” said Heidi Becker of JPL, Juno’s Radiation Monitoring Investigation lead. “The constant bombardment will break the atomic bonds in Juno’s electronics.”

    The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

    More information on the Juno mission is available at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

    http://Facebook.com/Nasajuno

    http://Twitter.com/NASAjuno

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl

    NASA image

     
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