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NASA’s Juno Revealed Jupiter’s Grand Light Shows

NASA’s Juno mission has revealed new results from the Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument. This was the first time the early morning brightening unique to Jupiter’s spectacular aurorae. The transient displays of light occurred at the Jovian poles and had been observed only by the ground-based and Earth-orbiting observatories. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope also observed the immense display of lights.

The results of the study were published in the AGU Advances journal on March 16th. In 1994, it was first discovered by Hubble’s Faint Object Camera. The dawn storms consist of short-lived but intense brightening and broadening of Jupiter’s central auroral oval. Before NASA’s Juno, the observations of the Jovian ultraviolet aurora had offered only side views. The images hid everything that happened on the nightside of the planet.

Bertrand Bonfond, a researcher from the University of Liege in Belgium, said, “Observing Jupiter’s aurora from Earth does not allow you to see beyond the limb, into the nightside of Jupiter’s poles. Explorations by other spacecraft—Voyager, Galileo, Cassini—happened from relatively large distances and did not fly over the poles, so they could not see the complete picture.”

He said that the data from NASA’s Juno is a real game-changer. He feels that it allows a better understanding of what is happening in the nightside. It was also where the dawn storms were born. The researchers found dawn storms are conducted on the nightside of Jupiter. As the planet rotates, the soon-to-be dawn storms rotate with it into the dayside. These complex and intensely bright auroral features grow even more luminous in the dayside.

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