Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Colloquium

Monday, September 20, 2021 at 12:40 (Please note this talk is virtual only)

George Clark, Johns Hopkins APL

"Jupiter's Auroras as Revealed by NASA's Juno Mission"

A Pretty Image from the Talk


Of all the planets within the solar system, Jupiter’s space environment is often described using superlatives: fastest rotating planet, strongest magnetic field, most powerful aurora, biggest magnetosphere, etc. These qualities make experimental pursuits very exciting and ripe for discovery. One prime example, and the topic of this presentation, is the pursuit of the underlying physics powering Jupiter’s auroras. Prior to 2016, the phenomenological picture of Jupiter’s northern aurora was moderately established based on ultraviolet and X-ray observations from Earth-orbiting observatories. Already the auroral maps hinted that the jovian aurora were driven in a much different manner than Earth’s and likely Saturn’s. Lacking, however, were direct measurements in the auroral region to test various theories. In 2016, NASA’s Juno mission provided the first ever measurements of Jupiter’s polar magnetosphere and auroral region. The first few orbits revealed that Jupiter was much different than Earth and more complex than the theories originally established. Juno has been orbiting for over five years now and has executed 36 polar orbits with an altitude over Jupiter’s one-bar “surface” of just a few thousand kilometers. In this presentation we will show the various discoveries Juno has made to date with a focus on the main, polar, and satellite-footprint aurora from the perspective of energetic electron and ion signatures measured by the Jupiter Energetic particle Detector Instrument (JEDI). We will also discuss how these observations are challenging previous theories, new causal links being established and the future of Juno in its extended mission.


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