A scientific venture involving NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the ground-based Gemini Observatory and the Juno spacecraft has apparently allowed researchers to obtain what space.com describes as "their most detailed view of the wild storms" in Jupiter's atmosphere.
According to a statement released by NASA, scientists from UC Berkeley and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center were able to combine "multiwavelength observations" with "close-up views" from Juno, thus gaining new valuable insights into the gigantic planet's weather.
"Because we now routinely have these high-resolution views from a couple of different observatories and wavelengths, we are learning so much more about Jupiter's weather," said Amy Simon, an astronomer at Goddard Space Flight Center who is involved in the new research. "This is our equivalent of a weather satellite. We can finally start looking at weather cycles."
As the media outlet points out, while though the spacecraft has so far performed some 26 flybys of the planet, "which means the trio of observatories have built up quite a data set about Jupiter's atmosphere", the scientists have so far released the most "the most preliminary findings to date".
However, this data alone has apparently allowed the team to establish that "lightning was most common in a feature that scientists call a filamentary cyclone".
"These cyclonic vortices could be internal energy smokestacks, helping release internal energy through convection," noted Michael Wong, astronomer at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study. "Scientists track lightning because it is a marker of convection, the turbulent mixing process that transports Jupiter's internal heat up to the visible cloud tops. Ongoing studies of lightning sources will help us understand how convection on Jupiter is different from or similar to convection in the Earth's atmosphere."
The team also uses the data they've obtained to analyze phenomena such as zonal winds, atmospheric waves, convective storms, cyclonic vortices and hazes, with the media outlet adding that Juno's next "perijove" is going to take place in June.