Jupiter has one of the most bizarre atmospheres in the entire solar system. Gas giants like Jupiter are believed to have some kind of semi-solid core, but are mostly made of gas like hydrogen, helium, and ammonia. The planet is also the fastest spinning orb in the solar system, which creates a lot of turbulence and some very complex storm systems. And for the past few years, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting the planet to keep a close eye on Jupiter’s behavior. NASA, by the way, sourced the name from a Greek myth: Jupiter, king of the gods, was a philanderer and whenever he brought another woman back to his lair he’d hide his activity by engulfing himself with a thick layer of clouds. Too bad for him he didn’t realize that his wife, Juno, had the ability to see through the clouds. Joke’s on you Jupiter!
Earlier this month, NASA announced that two telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini telescope, will partner up with the Juno craft to help scientists get an even more comprehensive look at the planet. Researchers want to understand how Jupiter’s atmosphere works, and the best way to do this is by viewing it through different wavelength filters. Fortunately both the Hubble Space Telescope and Gemini have the filters needed to see into Jupiter’s haze. By deploying lenses that screen for UV light, infrared, and other frequencies, scientists will get a more complete picture of what is happening.
This week we will encircle the famous gas giant and peer down onto the planet with Juno’s eyes. Grab your space suit, we’re going in!