Juno Finds a ‘Whole New Jupiter’
Paradigms are collapsing as the Juno spacecraft gets a good look at the giant planet’s poles for the first time.
Every new planetary encounter finds surprises. That’s understandable when exploring the unknown, but the magnitude of the surprises indicate that the scientific consensus has been wrong in their models and predictions. Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester says at The Conversation,
Ten months after its nerve-wracking arrival at Jupiter, NASA’s Juno mission has started to deliver – forcing scientists to reevaluate what they thought they knew about the giant planet. The first findings from Juno, published in Science, indicate that many aspects of Jupiter have defied expectation – including the strength of its magnetic field, the shape of its core, the distribution of ammonia gas and the weather at its poles. It certainly makes this an exciting time to be a Jupiter scientist.
A long time ago, planetary scientists learned a way to shield their embarrassment at being wrong (6/25/17). They learned to call being wrong “exciting”.
What wrong things is Fletcher excited about this time? First, he says, the ammonia in Jupiter’s atmosphere was expected to be well mixed. “That idea has been turned on its head – the ammonia concentration is much less than expected.” Expected by whom? Expected by the secular planetary moyboys, presumably, who were supposed to know what to expect.
It certainly makes this an exciting time to be a Jupiter scientist.
Another surprise is that Jupiter’s famous bands extend much deeper than “expected” by atmospheric scientists. Fletcher continues,
This is much deeper than what we’ve generally thought of as Jupiter’s “weather layer” in the upper few tens of kilometres. What’s more, that structure isn’t the same all the way down – it varies with depth, indicating a large, complex circulation pattern.
And the surprises didn’t stop there. There is no solid core at Jupiter, apparently. Although no one can see what’s down there, new evidence suggests the presence of a “fluffy” core that extends halfway out from the center. That’s very, very different from the earth-sized solid core textbooks told us about for decates. And Jupiter’s magnetic field—strongest among the planets—also surprised the team, being formed much shallower than theory predicts. “If proven, this has substantial implications for studies of magnetic fields at all of the giant planets.”
At Live Science, reporter Mike Wall quotes Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton who expresses the shock at what Juno has revealed:
“Most scientists have felt that, as soon as you go down a little bit into Jupiter, everything would be well-mixed, and we’re finding that that’s just not true at all,” Bolton said. “There’s structure down deep, but it doesn’t seem to match the zones and belts. And so we’re still trying to figure it out.”
Juno’s measurements during the first few close passes also show that Jupiter’s magnetic field is nearly two times stronger than scientists had predicted. And the probe’s gravity data suggest that “there’s a lot of strange, deep motions that possibly are going on inside of Jupiter,” Bolton said.
“What Juno’s results are showing us is that our ideas of giant planets maybe are a little bit oversimplified,” he added. “They’re more complex than we thought; the motions that are going on inside are more complicated. It’s possible that they formed differently than [suggested by] our simple ideas.“
Bolton has summarized some of these initial findings in Geophysical Research Letters. A Juno Image Gallery has been posted by NASA. Most dramatic have been the stunning photos of cyclones, swirls and turbulent mixtures near the poles that look like works of abstract art. It looks very, very different from the parallel bands at the equator. As the craft saw, for the first time, the higher latitudes of Jupiter, it also didn’t look like anything like Saturn’s north polar hexagon or southern cyclone. Fletcher continues,
Gone is the organised structure of jets. There’s no evidence for hexagons or anything like it. And instead of one cyclone, we see multitudes, surrounded by a whole host of chaotic and turbulent features.
With the ability to see structures as small as 50km, Juno’s camera has revealed numerous bright cyclones of a variety of appearances – some appear sharp, some have clear spirals, some are fluffy and diffuse, and the largest is some 1400km across. That’s about the same distance between London and Majorca. These bright storms sit on top of dark clouds, giving the appearance of “floating” on a dark sea, and it will be some time before we understand the lifetimes and motions of these storms.
That’s a lot of turbulence to have gone on for billions of years. In the last paragraph, Fletcher explains why he is excited by being so wrong:
You might imagine that, faced with throwing out models that have taken careers to develop, scientists might be a little glum. But the exact opposite is true. A mission like Juno, accessing regions that no robotic spacecraft has ever probed before, is designed to test the models to the extreme. If they break, then the search to find the missing pieces of the puzzle will provide deeper insights into the physics of the Jovian system. All these surprises have come from just the first perijove encounter, and I’m sure there are plenty more revelations to come.
Is this a fire insurance policy? No matter how much wrong the models prove to be, they can call it “deeper insight” and keep their jobs. But when previous insights were wrong, it means they were never insights at all; when previous models were wrong, they were fake models (7/06/16). The public should have hoped that the scientists would be at least partly right. Astrobiology Magazine calls it “A Whole New Jupiter” that Juno has found, implying that the Old Jupiter (the models and insights into its workings) were fake all along.
Here’s an idea. Since the moyboy theoreticians are always wrong at every planet and moon they look at, fire them all. Who needs them? Let NASA keep the engineers who build and fly the spacecraft. They do their job with excellence, and usually succeed against formidable odds. Anyone who has a prediction or a model can put it out there before the encounter. Then, let the world have open access to the treasure trove of data and photographs. The prediction that best fits the data wins and gets the honors. Isn’t that the way that science (‘knowledge’) should work? Who needs a bunch of perpetually-wrong government employees who take taxpayer money and can’t be fired?
That’s what Captain Fitzroy should have done. He should have left Charlie D. on the dock. Fitzroy could have announced his route through the public media so that people could predict what his crew would find. All he needed on the boat were the best mariners, data collectors and and engineers. Unbiased writers on board could keep good journals and bring back samples. They could have gathered lots of specimens, and presented them publicly where everyone could look at them. The sharpest minds could have equal access to the data. The best ideas could rise in public debate at open scientific societies.
Instead, Fitzroy took along a failed student with a gift of gab who brought us the Stuff Happens Law, using it to argue that humans came from bacteria. Are we better off because of it?*
*For the answer, read Dr Jerry Bergman’s book, How Darwinism Corrodes Morality.