Source Story by: Andrew Griffen

Scientists have announced that new data from a NASA space craft is challenging our idea of how the solar system works.

Researchers say that new data being sent back from the Juno and Cassini craft from gas planets Jupiter and Saturn are challenging our understanding of how solar systems form and behave.

The magnetic and gravity data is proving “invaluable but also confounding” according to the researchers. One researcher explained “any explanation for this has to be unorthodox” and they are “unlike anything we have ever seen before”.

Caltech scientist David Stevenson presented the findings. He said “A successful mission is one that surprises us” and “Science would be boring if it merely confirmed what we previously thought”.

Cassini spent thirteen years orbiting Saturn before it dove into the planet in 2017 destroying itself. Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for the last 2.5 years. Both craft had been collecting data. The data is still being analyzed by researchers and they are amazed.

Stevenson Said “Although there are puzzles yet to be explained, this is already clarifying some of our ideas about how planets form, how they make magnetic fields and how the winds blow,”

Scientists were able to look at microwaves to explore the atmosphere around planets by using instruments on Juno. This data is showing that the atmosphere is evenly mixed in a way that they had not expected.

It is still not clear but it could be that the atmosphere is formed by weather events. These events could be concentrating large amounts of ice, gas, and liquids across the atmosphere.

Juno is also sending back data about the gravitational and magnetic properties of Jupiter. The planet seems to have unexplained spots where the magnetic field is unusually high or low. It is also proving to be very different across the northern and southern hemisphere of the planet. Researchers say it is not like anything they have seen before.

Scientists are also learning that Jupiter is at least 90% helium and hydrogen. They are also finding much heavier elements that amount to over 10x the mass of earth. However, they are squashed into one core and are mixed with hydrogen above. This is found in the form of a metallic liquid.

The data is also showing that the outer layer of the planets are playing a much larger role in the magnetic field then scientists previously expected. The amount of heavier elements in the outer layers is uncertain. Researchers are hoping to be able to mimic the pressures and temperatures here on earth to gain a better understanding  about what is happening on the planets.

The new data being collected could potentially help researchers gain a new understanding of the solar system in ways that previously have not been understood.


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