By Alexandra Witze
The sharpest look yet at Jupiter has revealed a number of surprises — including a surge of ammonia welling up from its gassy depths, a startlingly powerful magnetic field and what could be a large, but poorly defined, core.
NASA’s Juno mission began to capture these insights on 27 August last year, during the first of a series of close swoops past the planet. Preliminary results appeared on 25 May in Science and Geophysical Research Letters.
As the first spacecraft to explore Jupiter in more than a decade, Juno “is revolutionizing how we thought giant planets work”, says Scott Bolton, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, and the mission’s principal investigator.
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