A new NASA probe has just revealed that Jupiter’s atmosphere may not be as dry as thought earlier. The latest revelation was made in the first results by the space agency’s Juno mission. The Juno spacecraft measured the amount of water in the planet’s atmosphere. The US space agency launched the mission in August 2011 as part of the New Frontiers program. The Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s polar orbit after five years in July 2016. The spacecraft is measuring the planet’s composition which includes its gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. The spacecraft will also look for clues on how it was actually formed and tell scientists whether it has a rocky core.
The Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit the largest planet in our solar system. It will also measure the amount of water present in its deep atmosphere. Before Juno, the nuclear powered NASA’s uncrewed spacecraft Galileo studied the planet and its moons from 1995 to 2003. The Juno results noted that water makes up around 0.25 percent of the molecules in the planet’s atmosphere at the equator. It is almost three times that of the Sun. The study was published in Nature Astronomy journal. The findings contradict Galileo mission’s result that it might be extremely dry compared to the Sun.
Jupiter is a massive gas giant and the fastest spinning planet. It is the fifth planet from the Sun and second from Earth. According to NASA, this is the first findings on Jupiter’s abundance of water since the Galileo mission. Notably, the comparison is based on the presence of the planet’s components which include oxygen and hydrogen. NASA said that the Juno team used data accumulated during the spacecraft’s first eight flybys of the planet to come to this conclusion. Scientists believe that Jupiter was probably the first planet to form in the solar system. It contains most of the gas and dust that was not incorporated into the Sun.