Subaru Telescope observes Jupiter in conjunction with Juno orbiter

Figure 2. Close up images of the Great Red Spot from Gemini Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI) images showing differences in the interior structure of this giant vortex with altitude.”Wow – more remarkable images from the adaptive optics system at Gemini!” said Chris Davis, Program Officer for Gemini at the National Science Foundation (NSF), one of five agencies that operate the observatory.Juno arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a almost five-year trek through deep space.In just one week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will soar just 5,600 miles above the anticyclone on Jupiter, known as the Great Red Spot, in the feature’s first ever close-up examination. The red spot is an aggressive storm which was estimated to be more than 25,000 miles wide nearly three times the size of the Earth. At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 3,500 kilometres above the planet’s cloud tops.Scott Bolton, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and the principal investigator, said that Jupiter’s mysterious Great Spot is probably the best known feature of the gas giant Jupiter.The data collection of the Great Red Spot is part of Juno’s sixth science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops. All eight of the spacecraft’s instruments as well as its JunoCam will be on during the flyby.Perijove, the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s centre, will be on Monday, July 11, at 2:55am (BST).Juno’s mission is scheduled to last through at least February 2018.”The Gemini observations, spanning most of the first half of this year, have already revealed a treasure-trove of fascinating events in Jupiter’s atmosphere”, said Glenn Orton, PI for this Gemini adaptive optics investigation and coordinator for Earth-based observations supporting the Juno project at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”We get spatial context from seeing the whole planet“.The $1.1 billion Juno mission launched on August 5, 2011.”The combination of Earth-based and spacecraft observations is a powerful one-two punch in exploring Jupiter“. These images are sensitive to increasing absorption by mixtures of methane and hydrogen gas in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The world still isn’t sure why the Great Red Spot has been around for so long, or even why it’s red.On the same night, the researchers used the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer (COMICS) instrument on the Subaru Telescope, with filters sensitive to temperatures at different layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events.”A region to its northwest was unusually turbulent and chaotic, with bands that were cold and cloudy alternating with bands that were warm and clear”, he added.