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Juno captures incredible cyclones at Jupiter's South Pole

Solar System Update: June 2017

What is up in the solar system? This month’s solar system update focuses on two missions in particular, Cassini and Juno.  Juno is early in its mission and already is bringing us incredible, stunning images of the gas giant, Jupiter. Cassini is nearing the end of its mission and will take its scheduled final plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, 2017.

Juno recently sent back its first science results.  With these findings, scientists are able to confirm that Jupiter is indeed a very turbulent and complex world.  According to the mission updates, Jupiter’s poles contain dense, colliding, Earth-sized cyclones.  The formation of these cyclones is still a mystery but Juno’s data over the next year will be able to give us enough information to begin solving this puzzle.

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011 and entered Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016. To learn more about the Juno Mission and keep up to date on its results, visit the Mission websites here or here.

As the Cassini probe swings in closer to the ringed planet, Saturn, it too is sending back beautiful, never before seen images of Saturn’s rings, poles, and moons. The 20-year mission is now in its “Grand Finale” phase.  This past April, Cassini started a series of 22 orbit’s that will bring it close and closer to the surface of Saturn before it takes a final plunge into the planet’s atmosphere and sends back never before known science until the very end.

Already we have learned a great deal from the Grand Finale orbits.  New observations of Saturn’s moon Enceladus shows that the icy, ocean-bearing moon, has a spin axis that may have shifted, or tipped over in its past, possibly from a collision with a smaller body.   Another close-up inspection of the edges of Saturn’s main ring system, has given us detailed images and measurements of Saturn’s smallest satellites. Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor of The Planetary Society, shares a scale model of the satellites, here.

Cassini launched on October 15, 1997 and arrived at Saturn on July 1, 2004. To learn more about the Cassini Mission and keep up to date on its results, visit the Mission website here.


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