This week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft discovered evidence that suggested Jupiter’s magnetic alters over time, quite similar to the magnetic field of the Earth, said the space agency. The process, which is called secular variation, is likely a result of Jupiter’s profound atmospheric winds, NASA further said.
The Juno space probe, which is a part of NASA’s New Frontiers mission, was launched by the agency on August 5, 2011 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft, designed to study the magnetic field, composition, polar magnetosphere and gravity field, reached the planet successfully in July 2016.
The agency utilized the data gathered during the spacecraft’s initial 8 passes of the planet in order to develop a 3D map of Jupiter’s magnetic field. This 3D map was later compared with the data gathered from the past missions, a few of which dating back to over 4 decades. The comparison revealed small but different changes in the internal magnetic field of Jupiter.
According to a Juno researcher from Cambridge University, Kimee Moore, getting access to baseline of observations over 4 decades long has provided enough information to confirm the fact that the magnetic field of Jupiter indeed changes over time.
The researchers believe that the atmospheric winds majorly are responsible for the alterations in Jupiter’s magnetic field.
Notably, the study will help researchers understand the several mysteries related to Jupiter much better and may also help unmask a few remaining facts about Earth’s internal magnetic field.