Astronomers have recently spotted a novel cyclone on Jupiter and it is found to be extremely massive. The storm was spotted by Juno, the Jupiter spacecraft, while on its recent data-gathering flyby. At the beginning of November itself, the solar-powered probe spotted the cyclone and the data showed the gas giant to be towering 2,175 Miles above its clouds. The spacecraft was kept clear of an eclipse by the team without ending the mission. The astronomers fear that the probe may face the same fate as Mars Opportunity rover that had all its connection lost due to the sunlight blocked from reaching its solar panels by the dust storm. However, in case of Jupiter’s spacecraft, the team was able to help the rover jump past the shadow and discover the storm.
NASA has been able to use creativity and analytical thinking to save the probe. It was realized that the orbit was going to pull Juno into the gas giant’s shadow and it could further complicate things as it is a solar-powered probe. The lack of sunlight could freeze the rover. Juno was able to identify 9 cyclones in the north and 6 of them in the south on July 2016. On the south pole, there were 5 windstorms that were almost the size of the US and no new storms were found. The polar cyclones have a novel cyclone that is changing from a pentagon to a hexagon. The new storm is almost the size of Texas and the Juno’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) data showed the wind to be 225 miles per hour. The weather seems to have triggered the cyclones. The fluid motions and atmosphere of the giant planet is being studied through observations and computer simulations. Till the end of July 2021, Juno will continue to collect data on Jupiter.
Likewise, NASA had earlier given the Europa Clipper mission a green signal to intensely study Jupiter’s biggest moons. By 2025, the mission will be launched but for now, the unmanned mission is in its final design phase and still has to go through testing & building phases. A global subsurface ocean underneath its ice crust on Europa is the reason behind researchers studying the moon. Europa Clipper is designed to make 45 flybys of Europa in a 3-month period at an altitude of 16 to 1,675 Miles.