Animations of the relative heights of Jupiter’s cloud tops reveal delicately textured swirls and peaks that look like icing at the top of a cupcake. The results were presented today by citizen scientist and professional mathematician and software developer, Gerald Eichstädt, at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada.
The animation uses data from JunoCam, the visible-light camera aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has orbited Jupiter since 2016. Originally put onboard to increase public engagement around Jupiter exploration and its moons, a global team of citizen scientists, working in conjunction with professional astronomers and the Juno team, have demonstrated that JunoCam can also provide valuable science.
“The Juno mission gives us the opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way that is essentially inaccessible to terrestrial telescopic observations. We can observe the same cloud features from very different angles in just a few minutes,” said Dr Eichstätd. “This has opened up a new opportunity to derive 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud tops. Images of the wonderful chaotic storms on Jupiter seem to come to life, showing clouds rising to different altitudes.”
Using the different ways sunlight is reflected and scattered by clouds, the team was able to determine the elevation of the observed cloud tops. Solar illumination is most intense for clouds in the upper atmosphere. Deeper in the atmosphere, more light is absorbed, especially by methane, before being reflected back to the camera by the cloud tops.
Understanding the relative heights of the spiny pillars in the eddies will help scientists unravel the elements that make them up in more detail.
“According to theoretical models, clouds should be composed of different chemical species, ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water ice from top to bottom,” Dr Eichstädt added. “Once we have calibrated our data through further measurements of the same cloud tops, we will test and refine the theoretical predictions and have a better 3D picture of the chemical composition.”
Clouds on Jupiter rising above the surrounding atmosphere
Eichstädt, G., Orton, G., and Hansen-Koharcheck, C.: Long-range observations with JunoCam, Europlanet 2022 Science Congress, Granada, Spain, September 18-23, 2022, EPSC2022-1124, 2022. meetingorganizer.copernicus. or … 2/EPSC2022-1124.html
Provided by Europlanet
Quote: First 3D renders from JunoCam data reveal “frosty cupcake” clouds on Jupiter (2022, September 21) Retrieved September 22, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09- 3d-junocam-reveal-frosted-cupcake. html
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