On November 8, 2020, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew by way of an intense beam of electrons touring from Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, to its auroral footprint on the fuel big. Southwest Analysis Institute scientists used knowledge from Juno’s payload to review the particle inhabitants touring alongside the magnetic discipline line connecting Ganymede to Jupiter whereas, on the identical time, remotely sensing the related auroral emissions to unveil the mysterious processes creating the shimmering lights.
“Jupiter’s most huge moons every create their very own auroras on Jupiter’s north and south poles,” stated Dr. Vincent Hue, lead creator of a paper outlining the outcomes of this analysis. “Every auroral footprint, as we name them, is magnetically linked to their respective moon, sort of like a magnetic leash linked to the moon glowing on Jupiter itself.”
Just like the Earth, Jupiter experiences auroral gentle across the polar areas as particles from its huge magnetosphere work together with molecules within the Jovian environment. Nonetheless, Jupiter’s auroras are considerably extra intense than Earth’s, and in contrast to Earth, Jupiter’s largest moons additionally create auroral spots. The Juno mission, led by SwRI’s Dr. Scott Bolton, is circling Jupiter in a polar orbit and flew by way of the electron “thread” connecting Ganymede with its related auroral footprint.
“Previous to Juno, we knew that these emissions could be fairly advanced, starting from a single auroral spot to a number of spots, which typically path an auroral curtain that we referred to as the footprint tail,” stated Dr. Jamey Szalay, a co-author from Princeton College. “Juno, flying extraordinarily near Jupiter, revealed these auroral spots to be much more advanced than beforehand thought.”
Ganymede is the one moon in our photo voltaic system that has its personal magnetic discipline. Its mini-magnetosphere interacts with Jupiter’s huge magnetosphere, creating waves that speed up electrons alongside the fuel big’s magnetic discipline traces, which could be immediately measured by Juno.
Two SwRI-led devices on Juno, the Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) and the Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS) offered key knowledge for this research, which was additionally supported by Juno’s magnetic discipline sensor constructed at NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart.
“JADE measured the electrons touring alongside the magnetic discipline traces, whereas UVS imaged the associated auroral footprint spot,” stated SwRI’s Dr. Thomas Greathouse, a co-author on this research.
On this means, Juno is each capable of measure the electron “rain” and instantly observe the UV gentle it creates when it crashes into Jupiter. Earlier Juno measurements confirmed that enormous magnetic perturbations accompanied the electron beams inflicting the auroral footprint. Nonetheless, this time, Juno didn’t observe comparable perturbations with the electron beam.
“If our interpretation is right, this a affirmation of a decade-old principle that we put collectively to elucidate the morphology of the auroral footprints,” stated Dr. Bertrand Bonfond, a co-author of the research from the Liège College in Belgium. The speculation means that electrons accelerated in each instructions create the multi-spot dance of auroral footprints.
“The Jupiter-Ganymede relationship might be additional explored by Juno’s prolonged mission, in addition to the forthcoming JUICE mission from the European Area Company,” Hue stated. “SwRI is constructing the subsequent era of UVS instrumentation for the mission.”
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