12th November 2021

The Juno mission was due to end this year, but it was given a five year extension because it was performing so well. Jonathan explained to us what its mission was and showed some stunning images sent back from the craft. He explained it was an afterthought to put a camera on the craft but what a bonus it had been.

Its mission is to map Jupiter. When it reached the planet, on the 5th July 2016, it went into a polar orbit which has given scientists a view of the polar regions and revealed interesting features they can now investigate. To extend its life, some of the instruments on board were locked in a titanium vault to protect it from radiation.

He showed images of the aurorae which is 100 times more charged than Earth’s. It was found that the belts and zones, which form the stripes on Jupiter, extend down to 3000km, but that the red spot only reaches 320km. Those of us who have observed the spot, agree that it has been shrinking of late. It is now just over the radius of the Earth. It is not known whether it will shrink further or increase.

Some of the things Jonathan touched on were the curious cloud arrangements at the north pole, lightening, and the magnetic fields. This is far too much to cover in this article so I will leave it there and hope I have given you a flavour of the talk.

Marilyn Bentley