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Jupiter’s Cyclones Exhibit Strange Rotations

In this animated GIF, the clouds on the periphery of some of Jupiter's polar cyclones rotate counterclockwise, while the core of the cyclones rotate clockwise. Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt processed the images to enhance the color and contrast.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Gerald Eichstädt)

As ever-improving resolution from the JunoCam instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft allows scientists to more closely study Jupiter, scientists have been researching an unusual trait among cyclones found near the planet’s north pole.

“JunoCam is the visible imager on the Juno payload, and has taken lots of images of the north polar cyclones,” said Candy Hansen, PSI Senior Scientist and Juno Co-Investigator who leads the JunoCam effort. “Interestingly, we see the center of the cyclones rotating in the opposite direction of the outside. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the counter-rotation, but certainly this is the best resolution.”

JunoCam is a public outreach tool. Amateur citizen scientists participating in the JunoCam virtual imaging team and professional Scientists will continue to study Jupiter’s cyclones to figure out why, Hansen said.

Feb. 7, 2021
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