One of these instruments, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), captured views of Jupiter's north and south poles in infrared light, revealing hot spots that had never been seen before, mission scientists said.
Like Earth, Jupiter has auroras - dramatic light displays that dance above the planet's north and south polar regions. JIRAM got unprecedented looks at the powerful Jovian southern aurora, Juno team members said.
"We were amazed to see it for the first time," JIRAM co-investigator Alberto Adriani, of the Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (Institute of Astrophysics and Space Planetology) in Rome, said in the same statement.
"No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora," he added. "Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora's morphology and dynamics."
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Juno also managed to "hear" Jupiter's auroras, using the spacecraft's Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (also known as Waves).
"Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter's north pole," said Waves co-investigator Bill Kurth, a research scientist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa. "These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them."
Next month, Juno is scheduled to perform another engine burn that will shift the probe into a 14-day-long orbit. The spacecraft will continue gathering data - especially during its close flybys over the planet's poles - before ending its mission with an intentional death dive into Jupiter's atmosphere in February 2018.
Juno's observations should help scientists better understand Jupiter's composition and structure, including whether the giant planet harbors a core of heavy elements. This information should, in turn, shed light on the formation of Jupiter, the solar system and planetary systems in general, NASA officials have said.
Originally published on Space.com.
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