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Juno and Jupiter's radiation belts -

Juno and Jupiter's radiation belts por NASAJuno   8 anos atrás

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This animation shows the orbit of NASA's Juno spacecraft with respect to the giant planet's radiation belts.

The space around Jupiter is filled with electrically charged atomic particles -- electrons, protons and ions. (The bulk of this material comes from volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.) These particles feel the force of Jupiter's powerful magnetic field and move in response to it. Some of the particles, mainly the electrons, are accelerated to nearly the speed of light.

Even though electrons are incredibly small and have almost no mass, there are a lot of them, moving very fast, and thus they pack a huge amount of energy. This high-energy charged particle radiation is concentrated in belts around the planet's equator. The radiation can damage electronics, and thus it poses a hazard for any spacecraft visiting Jupiter.

Over about 15 months, Juno will make 33 orbits around the giant planet's poles, coming to within 3100 miles (5000 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops every 11 days. This special orbit allows Juno to get very close to the planet while avoiding the most intense regions of radiation.

To a stationary observer, the radiation belts appear to wobble back and forth over the course of a Jovian day (about 10 hours). This is because Jupiter's magnetic axis is offset from its rotational axis.

Juno will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016.

Credit: NASA/JPL


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