By Andy Coghlan
Big planets come with big surprises. Last week, delegates at the annual European Geosciences Union meeting got the first glimpse of data from the Juno spacecraft now in orbit around Jupiter, and the findings are already challenging assumptions about everything from the planet’s atmosphere to its interior.
“The whole inside of Jupiter is just working differently than our models expected,” said mission principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in Texas.
Launched on 5 August 2011, Juno reached Jupiter and began its first orbit on 4 July last year. Since then, it has performed four more circuits. There are 33 planned pole-to-pole circuits in all, encircling the entire planet bit by bit.
The findings presented in Vienna come from these first few circuits, which each last 53 Earth days and include a 6-hour scan of the planet from north to south. Although the information is preliminary, the researchers involved are thrilled.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.