Probe Makes 'Earth-Shattering' Find at Jupiter's Poles

Monstrous cyclones are not what scientists expected
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2017 4:15 AM CDT
Updated May 26, 2017 6:43 AM CDT
Monstrous Cyclones Spotted Over Jupiter's Poles
This image made available by NASA on Thursday, May 25, 2017, and made from data captured by the Juno spacecraft shows Jupiter's south pole. The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter.   (Uncredited)

Monstrous cyclones are churning over Jupiter's poles, until now a largely unexplored region that is more turbulent than scientists expected. NASA's Juno spacecraft spotted the chaotic weather at the top and bottom of Jupiter once it began skimming the cloud tops last year, surprising researchers who assumed the giant gas planet would be relatively boring and uniform down low, the AP reports. "What we're finding is anything but that is the truth. It's very different, very complex," Juno's chief scientist Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute said after the major findings were released Thursday.

With dozens of cyclones hundreds of miles across—alongside unidentifiable weather systems stretching thousands of miles—the poles look nothing like Jupiter's equatorial region, instantly recognizable by its stripes and Great Red Spot, a raging hurricane-like storm. "That's the Jupiter we've all known and grown to love," Bolton says. "And when you look from the pole, it looks totally different ... I don't think anybody would have guessed this is Jupiter." He calls the new findings "Earth-shattering. Or should I say, Jupiter-shattering." Turning counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere just like on Earth, the cyclones are clearly clustered near the poles, with the diameters of some of them stretching up to 1,700 miles. (More Jupiter stories.)

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