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NASA’s Juno space probe is now observing Jupiter from orbit. This cover photo, showing the planet’s aurora, is one of its first pictures. Juno may put an end to some persistent mysteries about our solar system’s largest planet. Mysteries like these:
Is Jupiter Gas Or Solid?
It’s always been assumed that Jupiter is all gas, even though at a certain depth the pressure would turn it into an exotic substance like metallic hydrogen. But we’re not sure. Could there be a rocky surface after all?
Are The Belts Just A Surface Feature?
This is the painting ‘Ochre Sea and Sky’ by Albert Houthuesen. It’ll give an idea of what the sky would look like under an ochre zone of Jupiter – IF those zones and bands go all the way down to the surface. We don’t know.
Why Bands Stay Separate?
We’re not sure why Jupiter’s bands stay separated. Differences in pressure? Temperature? Here’s hoping for a closer look…
How Do They Get Their Colors?
We know a little about chemistry, and so can speculate about why the bands and zones have the colors they do. But it sure will be nice to sample that atmosphere more directly…
What Powers The Great Red Spot?
How can one storm last over 300 years? Again, we have know idea. Is it a surface feature, or at least a feature at depth?
Where’s The Water?
It’s thought that there’s water present on Jupiter, especially in the upper atmosphere. But we haven’t found all we expected. Several reactions we observe depend on it’s being there. What’s going on?
What’s The Core Made Of?
Iron? Hydrogen? We can always speculate. We’re not even certain about Earth’s core, frankly, so maybe it’s best not to get cocky about our speculations.
Jupiter’s Magnetosphere is the largest feature in our Solar System not directly part of the Sun. It’s 20,000 times as powerful as Earth’s, which is unusually powerful. What’s causing it?
How’s Star Child?
You know…from ‘2001:A Space Odyssey’. At the end of that movie, he’s a giant baby floating in space. But that was a 1969 movie. Is he shaving yet? Does he smoke cigarettes? Can he spare one for a lonely space probe?