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J.E.P. Connerney et al., Science (2017)

The first science results are in from NASA spacecraft Juno's close pass over Jupiter last summer:

  • There are huge cyclones up to 870 miles in diameter at both of Jupiter's poles, which appear to be chaotic and violent.
  • Jupiter's gravitational field is massive - roughly 10 times Earth's magnetic field and greater than what NASA scientists had expected.
  • There's quite a light show on the gas planet. Juno detected electron beams showering energy downward into Jupiter's upper atmosphere, which may be what powered the huge aurorae the probe saw in ultraviolet and infrared images it captured.
  • Unexpectedly, there are signs of ammonia welling up from its deep atmosphere, indicating a giant weather system across the planet.

Big differences: One thing is clear from the first actual looks at Jupiter's surface and atmosphere: it's no Earth. The differences in electron showers between the two planets suggest they behave very differently with their space environments.

How it works: The Juno spacecraft launched in 2011, and made its first close pass of Jupiter on August 27, 2016. Juno was able to fly just above the cloud cover, as low as 2,100 miles above the surface of the planet, and captured time-lapse images of the poles, revealing the enormous cyclones at them. It was also able to measure the thermal structure of Jupiter's atmosphere.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

2 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.