After 5 long years, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has entered Jupiter’s orbit, 588 million kilometers (540 mi) away from home. Juno is the first to orbit Jupiter after Galileo. Your probably wondering why getting to Jupiter is such an important accomplishment. This is because of its magnetic field. The magnetic field is so intense that it creates massive concentrations of radiation, called radiation belts. These radiation belts capture debris moving at nearly the speed of light, moving from top to bottom of these humungous belts in only a few seconds. This is a major issue because to record the magnitude and direction of the magnetic field, with the provided pair of magnometers, the space shuttle must stay intact. To do this, Juno was specially engineered to have titanium shielding and radiation measuring mechanisms to keep it safe from all harm and soar much longer.
The magnetic field’s is full of mysteries, leaving the scientists excited for new information. The source of the magnetic field, known as the dynamo, on Jupiter is unidentified, while on Earth it is the liquid iron core. The exciting part of this is that the ability to analyze is clear and precise. Because of Earth’s crust, the ability to view and analyze the core is exceedingly difficult, making Jupiter’s gas giant qualities ideal for the situation. Another added excitement is the fact that this is the first time scientists are able to analyze a magnetic field in high quality that is not Earth’s.
This will hopefully lead to a better understanding of our own magnetic field and mainly shed more light on the process in which dynamos produce the magnetic fields. As said by Jared Espley, Juno program scientist for NASA Headquarters, “Any time we understand anything about another planet, we can take that knowledge and apply it to our knowledge about our own planet”.