The latest data sent back by the Juno and Cassini spacecraft from giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn have challenged a lot of current theories about how planets in our solar system form and behave.
The detailed magnetic and gravity data have been “invaluable but also confounding,” said David Stevenson from Caltech, who will present an update of both missions this week at the 2019 American Physical Society March Meeting in Boston. He will also participate in a press conference describing the work. Information for logging on to watch and ask questions remotely is included at the end of this news release.
“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,” Stevenson said.
Cassini orbited Saturn for 13 years before its dramatic final dive into the planet’s interior in 2017, while Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for two and a half years.
Juno’s success as a mission to Jupiter is a tribute to innovative design. Its instruments are powered by solar energy alone and protected so as to withstand the fierce radiation environment.
Stevenson says the inclusion of a microwave sensor on Juno was a good decision.