GeminiFocus July 2017 - Page 11

Figure 1. A composite color infrared image of Jupiter reveals haze particles over a range of altitudes, as seen in reflected sunlight. The image was taken using the Gemini North telescope’s Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI) on May 18, 2017, one day before the Juno mission’s fifth close passage (“perijove”) of the planet. The color filters cover wavelengths between 1.69 to 2.275 microns and are sensitive to pressures of 10 millibars to 2 bars. The Great Red Spot (GRS) appears as the brightest (white) region at these wavelengths, which are primarily sensitive to high-altitude clouds and hazes near and above the top of Jupiter’s convective region – revealing that the GRS is one of the highest-altitude features in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The features that appear yellow/orange at Jupiter’s poles arise from the reflection of sunlight from high-altitude hazes that are the products of auroral-related chemistry in the planet’s upper stratosphere. Narrow spiral streaks that appear to lead into the GRS or out of it from surrounding regions probably represent atmospheric features being stretched by the intense winds within the GRS, such as the hook- like structure on its western edge (left side). Some are being swept off its eastern edge (right side) and into an extensive wave-like flow pattern; and there is even a trace of flow from its north. Other features near the GRS include the dark block and dark oval to the south and the north of the eastern flow pattern, respectively, indicating a lower density of cloud and haze particles in those locations. Both are long-lived cyclonic circulations, rotating clockwise — in the opposite direction as the counterclockwise rotation of the GRS. A prominent wave pattern is evident north of the equator, along with two bright ovals; these are anticyclones that appeared in January. Both spacecraft orbiting the Earth (covering X-ray through visible wavelengths) and ground- based observatories (covering near-infrared through radio wavelengths). Next up: Juno’s closest approach to Jupi- ter on July 11, 2017. “Gemini observations, which are already underway for the July flyby, are helping to guide our plans for this passage,” said Orton. He added that the types of light Gemini captures provides a powerful glimpse into the layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere, as well as a 3-dimensional view into Jupiter’s clouds. Among the questions July 2017 the wave pattern and the ovals may be associated with an impressive upsurge in stormy activity that has been observed in these latitudes this year. Another bright anticyclonic oval is seen further north. Juno may pass over these ovals during its July 11th closest approach. High hazes are evident over both polar regions with much spatial structure that has never been seen quite so clearly in ground-based images, with substantial variability in their spatial structure. The central wavelengths and colors assigned to the filters are:1.69 microns (blue), 2.045 microns (cyan), 2.169 microns (green), 2.124 microns (yellow), and 2.275 microns (red). Image credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/JPL-Caltech/NASA Juno is investigating include poorly under- stood planetary-scale atmospheric waves south of the equator. “We aren’t sure if these waves might be seen at higher latitudes,” said Orton. “If so it might help us understand phenomena in Jupiter’s circulation that are quite puzzling.” “Wow — more remarkable images from the adaptive optics system at Gemini!” said Chris Davis, Program Officer for Gemini at the Na- tional Science Foundation (NSF), one of five agencies that operate the observatory. “It’s great to see this powerful combination of GeminiFocus 9