Jupiter Current Affairs - 2019

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Liquid methane spotted on Titan moon of Saturn

Using data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found that Saturn’s largest moon Titan has small liquid lakes that run more than 100 metres deep, perched atop hills and filled with methane.

What are the Findings?

The findings published in the journal titled Nature Astronomy make the following observations:

  • Titan has landforms akin to Mesas towering above the nearby landscape, topped with liquid lakes more than 300 feet deep comprised mainly of methane.
  • Scientists suspect the lakes were formed when surrounding bedrock chemically dissolved and collapsed a process which occurs with a certain type of lake on Earth.
  • The scientists also observed “phantom lakes” on Titan that during wintertime appeared to be wide but shallow ponds but perhaps were only a few inches deep and evaporated or drained into the surface by springtime, a process taking seven years on Titan.
  • The findings also presented evidence about Titan’s hydrological cycle, with liquid hydrocarbons raining down from clouds, flowing across its surface and evaporating back into the sky which is comparable to Earth’s water cycle.
  • Scientists suspect Titan could potentially could harbour life possibly in the surface bodies of liquid hydrocarbons because of Titan’s complex chemistry and distinctive environments.

Titan which is the moon of Saturn has a diameter of 5,150 km and is the solar system’s second largest moon, behind only Jupiter’s Ganymede. It is bigger than the planet Mercury.

Titan is the most Earth-like body in the solar system. It has lakes, canyons, rivers, dune fields of organic sand particles about the same size as silica sand grains on Earth.

Month: Categories: Science & TechnologyUPSC

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft completes flyby over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

NASA’s unmanned spacecraft Juno has successfully peered into the Jupiter’s giant storm known as the Great Red Spot. It became first space probe to complete flyby of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is a massive storm (cyclone) measuring about 16,000 km in diameter. It is largest known storm in the solar system.  It has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years.

The winds in the storm are clocked at hundreds of km an hour around its outer edges. Little is known about the forces driving it. The spot appears as a deep, red orb surrounded by layers of pale yellow, orange and white. The storm is believed to have been shrinking in recent years.

About Juno spacecraft

NASA had launched unmanned spacecraft Juno on August 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida as part of its New Frontiers program. It has been orbiting Jupiter, solar system’s largest planet from July 2016.

The spacecraft has been named from Greco-Roman mythology. It is orbiting Jupiter from pole to pole, 5,000 kilometers above planet’s cloud tops. It has mission life istill February 2018.

Its mission is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, investigate the existence of a solid planetary Jupiter’s core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere and observe Jupiter’s aurora.

Month: Categories: Science & Technology

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