The first detailed data on Jupiter was obtained from the Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 probes in the late 20th century. Today, they were replaced by the NASA Juno spacecraft, which is the second automatic interplanetary station of the New Horizons mission. Juno was launched on August 5, 2011. The aim of the mission is to examine the gas giant's gravitational and magnetic fields and to check for the presence of a solid core in Jupiter. Recently, after examining the data, scientists found that the amount of water in the Jupiter atmosphere is greater than previously thought. The study was published in the journal Nature.
How much water is in the gas giant?
The amount of water on Jupiter has been of interest to scientists for decades. Water is the most important molecule for the development of life. It is important not only because of our tireless search for life that is different from the earthly, but also because it is a key element in the formation of worlds. To find out exactly how much water is on the planets of the solar system, you have to understand which theories of planet formation are most accurate. We recently told you that by studying the oldest asteroid in the solar system, Arrokot, astronomers disproved the generally accepted theory of planet formation.
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The researchers have now provided a copy of the data collected by the Juno interplanetary station on the amount of water in the Jupiter atmosphere. It turned out that there is much more water at the planet's equator than experts had expected. These data indicate that Jupiter did not form through the fusion of a large number of comet-like objects. We recall that NASA launched the Galileo spacecraft in December 1995 to collect data on the amount of water in the gas giant. The data obtained showed that there is very little water on Jupiter. However, the measurements by Galileo were not stopped because the device failed. At the time, the researchers believed that there was virtually no water or ammonia in the gas giant's atmosphere. However, when the Galileo probe fell into Jupiter's atmosphere, it found no traces of water. However, when she plunged into the atmosphere, her concentration continued to increase.
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According to the study's authors, Juno data showed that the gas giant contains more water than the Galileo probe. In addition, Jupiter's atmosphere is not very well mixed, and anything that is much lower than the clouds of the largest planet in the solar system is a mystery that still needs to be solved. Nobody would have thought that water could be so volatile around the world.
Why is that important?
Researchers have long been interested in the "Great Separation" – a moment of mystery when planets formed in the solar system. The exact amount of water on the gas giant is of interest to scientists because it is likely that Jupiter will be the first planet formed that contains most of the gas and dust that were not in our star. In addition, the amount of water is also important for the weather and structure of Jupiter. Juno will continue to revolve around the gas giant until July 2021. After that, the station, like the Saturn research probe Cassini, will disintegrate in the atmosphere of the planet.