Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for six years. This time, it provided rare footage of Io, one of the gas giant’s Galilean moons. How are cosmic postcards created with Jupiter in the lead and why isn’t it an object worthy of a Webb telescope?
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system that we can see from all sides of the Earth. It is 318 times larger than our planet and moves in a very favorable way. It is located farther from the sun and takes about 12 years from Earth to travel in orbit. So our planet chases it without any problems and we see it in opposition to the sun every 13 months. It is then exceptionally well lit, and its dial is the brightest.
It’s also hard to get bored when observing Jupiter from Earth. The gas giant is the planet-coupling champion relatively often, and his spinning skills make him a speed pioneer in the Solar System. It takes less than 10 hours to fully rotate around its axis. For Earthlings, this means that getting to know each side of Jupiter doesn’t require much patience.
What changes tracking Jupiter from an extraterrestrial perspective?
Every technical change in astronomy regularly proves that Jupiter, available to the public, is not what we think. Galileo, who first looked at the gas giant with a telescope, was convinced of this. However, he did not have the opportunity to see it this way:
Jupiter is always full on Earth. We only see images of its entire polar regions and the sickle of Jupiter in the images provided by space probes and telescopes.
Beauty, however, isn’t why Jupiter has a bloated album of space photos. First of all, it is interesting as a very important planet in the solar system. During its journey around the Sun, it pulls up to 79 moons, but also controls the paths of the planets in the system. The orbits of most of them, including Earth, are kept closer to the plane of Jupiter’s orbit than to the solar equator. Alarming gaps in our knowledge and the many hypotheses that scientists have developed about Jupiter are also prompting a more detailed exploration of the gas giant.
Is there life on Jupiter?
For example, 50 years ago, Jupiter was a potential place for life. However, scientists’ hopes were dashed by observations made by probes sent to its vicinity. The Voyager missions proved that the gas giant contains very little water, and subsequent probes, especially Juno, contributed to strengthening the hypothesis that the structure of the planet is unfavorable for the development of life.
The latest observations of Jupiter’s atmosphere indicate that its lower parts are extremely hot and under great pressure. Such conditions exclude the formation of rocks and ocean basins. So there is no place on Jupiter for organisms that need water or oxygen or even those that prefer ammonia. This does not mean that the search for life on Jupiter was in vain. Passive verification is always valuable, and in this case, exploration has set new directions for research and locates another candidate for life-giving land.
How do we observe the planet Jupiter today?
Currently, seeing Jupiter is primarily the mission of the Juno spacecraft at the beginning of its mission. It was launched into space in 2011 and observations began in 2016. It was originally supposed to be the weather lady of Jupiter. Created maps of the planet’s atmosphere, and observed the aurora, magnetosphere, and gravitational field.. Thus, it was in order to provide very basic data. Jupiter’s atmosphere is the key to understanding the evolution and interpretation of the planet. Scientists also hypothesize that it is a mirror of the solar system at the time of its formation.
The Juno probe has successfully completed its mission and NASA has postponed its death sentence until 2025. Jupiter lacks the tools to observe Jupiter’s lower atmosphere, but optical instruments and Juno’s location can still provide interesting data. Therefore, a new goal was set for it, namely the observation of the three Gaelic moons: Ganymede, Io and Europa.
Ganymede and Io are volcanic scientists who transport ash and magma into space. They are motivated to do so by the proximity of a massive planet, and the frequency of their volcanic phenomena may bring something new to our knowledge of Jupiter. However, Europe is the source of the greatest feelings. This moon is covered with ice and a huge ocean has been observed under its surface. This makes it a good candidate for the life-giving Earth in the Solar System. His panels are particularly expected to serve as terrain reconnaissance on the international Europa Jupiter Mission, which is preparing for takeoff.
How are unusual images of Jupiter and the surrounding area created?
Already during the early stages of the Juno mission, NASA published images taken by the probe in the form of a raw mosaic and individual shots. Any Internet user can download them and create a postcard for the buyer or the vicinity based on them. The agency puts its most interesting ones in a dedicated gallery, something that’s especially worth keeping an eye on this year. We will now find real gems there:
In April, Juno was able to record the moon Io from a distance of just over 100,000 km.
Images of Io doesn’t have a lot of successful remakes yet, but it can’t be expected. The last lens that had a similar opportunity to capture this moon was the New Horizons probe, which in 2007 was headed toward Pluto.
We can expect images of potentially alien-occupied Europa in September.
Will the Webb telescope monitor Jupiter and its moons?
Last week, we may have come across news reports announcing the use of JWST to observe Jupiter. According to them, NASA wants to use the telescope’s highly sensitive optical instrument wherever JunoCAM has been found to be inadequate. It’s a load of bullshit, and how powerful it is is shown in the following chart:
The Webb Telescope has such an enormous range that directing its first observations at any planet in the solar system could mean the failure of its entire mission. Providing images of Jupiter likely contributed to a better understanding of the planet, but JWST cost $10 billion, or ten times the Juno probe’s budget. For that money, correcting his observations in the first year of the telescope’s mission is a huge waste.
Maybe that’s the reason No NASA reports including Jupiter in JWST observation schedule. The first planet to hit its target is a gas giant, but one it has never seen before. HD 80606 b Located 217 light-years from Earth, it was observed in 2001 by emitted radiation. It is larger than Jupiter, several times heavier, and, as an exoplanet, orbits a star other than the Sun.
Until then, however, we will have to wait at least a few weeks. At the moment, the ground crew of the telescope has reported that the MIRI (MidInfraRed optical instrument) has cooled. Its temperature reached 266 ° C, and this makes it possible to begin exploration.
Thus, the JWST is in the final stage of calibration. It is possible to point it at Jupiter at this point, but NASA may not provide such a shot. If he does, that’s only for photographing the state of the telescope, not the planet.
Sources: NASA, Geekweek
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