Saturday, July 8, 2017

[U] Space Science Saturday: I've Been Waiting A Year For This...

[Bumped, to top -- for Monday morning. . . . And yes this means we will ignore 45's disturbingly-unhinged tweets of this early morning -- at least until tomorrow.]

Not long after twisty long legged Juno safely used a gravity-assist/breaking maneuver -- to enter a stable orbit around mighty Jupiter (and another perfectly tiny copper-colored girl was born), I ran across this -- and knew the day would come, when we would get direct observational proof. [And we'd have a "she's one!" birthday party, to boot!]

Here almost exactly one year later, we are going to get that direct observational proof. At about 10 pm Eastern time, on Monday night, July 10, 2017, Juno will whiz over (at the lowest altitude, and closest approach ever attempted) the largest storm on Jupiter -- a yawning maw, some three times the size of the whole Earth. And it will almost certainly record temperatures that are hundreds of degrees hotter than the available, but faint sunlight would be capable of generating on its own.

Here is the NASA/JPL bit from last July:
. . . .NASA-funded research suggests that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot may be the mysterious heat source behind Jupiter’s surprisingly high upper atmospheric temperatures. . . .

Here on Earth, sunlight heats the atmosphere at altitudes well above the surface—for example, at 250 miles above our planet where the International Space Station orbits. Scientists have been stumped as to why temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are comparable to those found at Earth, yet Jupiter is more than five times the distance from the sun. They wanted to know: if the sun isn’t the heat source, then what is?. . . .

“The extremely high temperatures observed above the storm appear to be the ‘smoking gun’ of this energy transfer,” said O’Donoghue. “This tells us that planet-wide heating is a plausible explanation for the ‘energy crisis,’ a problem in which upper-atmospheric temperatures are measured hundreds of degrees hotter than can be explained by sunlight alone. . . .”

NASA's Juno spacecraft, which recently arrived at Jupiter, will have several opportunities during its 20-month mission to observe the Great Red Spot and the turbulent region surrounding it. Juno will peer hundreds of miles downward into the atmosphere with its microwave radiometer, which passively senses heat coming from within the planet. This capability will enable Juno to reveal the deep structure of the Great Red Spot, along with other prominent Jovian features, such as the colorful cloud bands. . . . [posted July 29, 2016]

Do go read the link, to understand how the massive storm's gravity waves, and acoustic compression waves, crashing into one another, are thought to generate the excess heat. Indeed -- onward, and fittingly so -- to a perfect copper colored one year old baby girl's. . . birthday party, in a few hours. Grinning ear to ear, now -- on a sunny, hot and humid morning here. . . . We hope you enjoy yours, as well. . . . of course, it will take a few weeks to download the data, from Juno's solid state memory arrays. So we will be -- as ever -- patiently waiting.


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