The Rings of Jupiter

Although this photo may seem very poor, surely none of you will be able to reproduce it nor do it better!

This is a picture taken by the Juno probe, the latest NASA mission on Jupiter, and incorporates the rings of Jupiter from an absolutely unique perspective: from the inside.

That’s right, when the picture was taken, the probe was positioned between the planet and its rings. The result is this photo that may seem like a bad one for beginners, but instead has a great scientific value.

In addition to Jupiter’s ring, Juno also managed to capture part of the constellation of Orion, including the red giant star Betelgeuse and the three stars that form the belt of Orion.

What we are seeing here is a ring of dust that is located 64,000 km away from Juno at the time of shooting.

If Juno had on board a shooting system in Virtual Reality or 360 °, turning back we would have seen in the foreground Jupiter, with its spectacular bands.

So from Jupiter, the sky looking towards the area of Orion, does not seem equal to our sky, right?

The Jupiter ring system is much smaller and weaker than the famous rings of Saturn.

Galileo Galilei observed the rings of Saturn in the distant 1610, but those of Jupiter were sighted only in 1979. The legendary Voyager 1 probe of NASA saw them for the first time, during its flight over the gaseous giant.

Jupiter’s Rings Structure – Image JPL/NASA

Very little is known about the system of rings of Jupiter. For now, astronomers have identified three main components: a pair of very weak outer rings called cobweb rings, a broad, flat main ring and a thick inner ring called a halo.

For now, the impression is that these rings were formed as a result of impacts between small moons. Currently Jupiter has 69 known moons, and with such an ambitious population of natural satellites an impact in history must surely not have been a rare event.

Jupiter’s rings seen from outside – Image JPL/NASA

The Juno mission cost $ 1.1 billion. It was launched in August 2011 and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016, 5 years later. Juno uses its eight scientific instruments to study the structure and composition of the planet Jupiter, as well as its gravitational and magnetic fields. The main objective of the mission is to understand how Jupiter is formed and how it evolved. The information which was collected should provide food for thought on the history of solar systems in general.

The probe collects most of its data during the close fly of the poles of the planet. The planet is so big that these overflights occur once every 53.5 Earth days.

Even Juno, like Cassini, will eventually be destroyed. It will enter Jupiter’s atmosphere and will be destroyed due to strong pressure and gravity. The date set for the end of the mission was the end of February 2018, but NASA decided to extend it until July 2021.

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