We have three Lego figures orbiting the planet Jupiter now.
Why are the instruments in a titanium vault?
Well, for one thing, Jupiter “roars” at you, even before you get there:
For another, Jupiter’s radiation belts are much stronger than Earth’s. Reportedly, particles trapped in those belts actually hit the spacecraft like BBs.
Nevertheless, Juno and its Lego crew have been in orbit for a while now, and are doing well. The images coming back are incredible. You probably saw this one recently. It’s of polar storms:
Juno has also taken us into the Red Spot:
And recently, the Juno mission to Jupiter accomplished its chief goal by enabling astrophysicists to look inside the gas giant indirectly for the first time.
By doing this —
–scientists found that the Red Spot and all those bands at the surface are an extension of what is going on farther down in the planet.
You might be thinking “of course!”, but it’s not really simple. Look at the ocean and its currents. Deeper currents sometimes follow much different paths than those at the surface.
And Jupiter is a dense fluid, experts say, though it’s made out of hydrogen and helium, not water.
So, congratulations, Juno! You have succeeded at Jupiter, but my favorite series of images are still the ones you took years ago of my home and its orbiting Moon.
Featured image: Artist’s conception of Juno orbiting Jupiter. NASA.