NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Reveals the Secrets of Jupiter’s Magnetic Field

One of the missions undertaken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Juno space probe is to explore the secrets of Jupiter’s magnetic field. The spacecraft has been travelling for five years and one hundred million miles and has only recently made its fifth close flyby. What extraordinary, hitherto undetected information is it sending back to earth?


NASA’s Juno spacecraft travelled five years and one hundred million miles to reach Jupiter and received confirmation of its orbit on July 5th, 2016. It was launched on 5th August 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the United States and the mission was named in honor of the Roman goddess Juno. This goddess had the foresight to understandupiter’s locked identity, more than two thousand years ago.

Juno’s Mission

Juno’s mission is to observe Jupiter’s structure as well as its magnetosphere. Its primary goal is to explore the gas giant’s magnetosphere and the flow of particles underneath it, as revealed by Jupiter’s auroras. The spacecraft took measurements on its fifth pass and this data is invaluable in understanding the planet’s global magnetic field.

Structure of the Magnetosphere

The magnetosphere is an area of ionized gas and plasma which surround a planet or a star. It forms a barrier between the stellar wind and the planet’s atmosphere. The magnetosphere has been studied largely from the ground, since spacecrafts were not able to fly close enough to accurately measure the structure and composition of the region. Juno is the first spacecraft to be sent close enough to make these measurements accurately.

Types of Observations

Juno has been designed to make observations of the aurorae, which appear to be entries and exits of particles in the solar wind. It will also be observing plasmas, their temperatures and densities. Furthermore, Juno has been equipped with imaging systems and various instruments to measure the planet’s magnetic field, fields of particles, and the radiation environment that it exists in.

Features of Jupiter’s Magnetic Field

Jupiter’s magnetic field is the strongest of any planet in the Solar System and is roughly ten times stronger than the Earth’s. The field is generated by a dynamo effect which is created by its thought to be mainly liquid – hydrogen and helium which move around during the planet’s rotation. The field is more irregular at lower latitudes and is more concentrated at the poles.

Secrets Revealed by Juno

The fifth pass of the Juno space probe on July 24th, 2016 revealed groundbreaking news concerning Jupiter’s magnetosphere. This pass enabled Juno to make detailed measurements of the field’s magnetic properties and of the strength of the dynamo.

Findings from Juno

The main findings from Juno are:

• Jupiter’s magnetic field is highly dynamic and is not symmetrical.
• There are three distinct regions inside the planet’s magnetosphere.
• There is an array of pointed ‘peaks’ in the magnetic field at high latitude regions.
• The dynamo powering the magnetic field is much stronger than was previously thought.
• There are vast changes in the dynamo every few hours.

Impact of the Findings

These findings are groundbreaking and will allow us to better understand the complex phenomenon of Jupiter’s magnetic fields. Juno’s discovery opens the door to many new areas of exploration, ensuring more progress in the fields of astrophysics and space exploration.

NASA’s Juno mission is an exciting exploration of Jupiter and its magnetic field. The fifth flyby has revealed new secrets and new prospects for exploration, which will further our understanding of the processes and phenomena that govern the planet and its magnetosphere. With each new finding, we move our scientific knowledge forward and uncover the secrets of the Universe.