Jovian Polar Vortices

Jupiter’s atmosphere is full of enduring mysteries, and its poles are no exception. Instruments aboard the Juno spacecraft have gotten a better look at Jupiter’s North and South poles than any previous mission, and what they’ve found raises even more questions. Both of Jupiter’s poles feature a central cyclone ringed by other, similarly-sized cyclones. The North pole has eight outer cyclones (top image), while the South pole has five (bottom image), shown above in infrared. Despite being close enough that their spiral arms intersect, the cyclones don’t seem to be merging into something like Saturn’s polar hexagon. For now, scientists don’t know how this arrangement formed or why it persists, but the longer Juno can study the vortices up close, the more we’ll learn. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM; research credit: A. Adriani et al.; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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