The Current State of JUNO

The lead scientist, Dr. Scott Bolton, admits essentially that Jupiter is not a gas giant, stating " We're seeing a lot of our ideas were incorrect and maybe naive."
  1. Scientists are puzzled to see that the familiar striped cloud layers 'may be' only skin deep. These zones and belts either don't exist or the Juno microwave instrument just isn't sensitive to it.
  2. The gravity experiment is not seeing a concentrated core at the center of the planet or a pure hydrogen interior, the two competing hypotheses, Dr. Bolton stated "and what we found was that neither are true." Instead, the data suggests a 'fuzzy' core, with unexplained 'anomalous masses'.
  3. The enormously powerful ultraoviolet auroral ovals are imagined to be due to energetic particles descending around the poles, but what the Juno JEDI energetic particle detector has detected to date are streams of electrons coming upward from the polar regions.
Dr. John Connerney states " Its a 180-degree turnabout from the way we were thinking about these emissions."
Fig.1 JEDI ion on-day summary
© acksblog
Fig.1 In the JEDI 90 TOFxE spectrum for ions on day 240, 2016, the abscissa shows the energy deposition in the SSD array in digital number and keV. The ordinate shows the time of flight measured for each ion in digital number and nanosecond. Clear tracks are observed for protons, helium, oxygen, sulfur, and an unexpected heavy ion track labeled Mg/Na.
The Cassini probe, in orbit since 2004, finally ended last week. Optimistically, Dr. Bolton mused that "Eventually we will compare ..." the data from the two missions and "We will really be able to advance our understanding of how these giant planets work." This is doubtful, since in the entire 13 years orbiting, Cassini was not able to determine the rotation rate of Saturn.

Cyclic Catastrophism

One of the main objectives of the Juno mission was to determine the origin of the strong UV emission from the auroral ovals. This is thought to be due to the incidence of a powerful flux of heavy ions. The JEDI instrument is considered the best means of identifying these ions. However, as mentioned in previous posts, Juno's orbit passes too high above the poles of Jupiter to detect the unique 3He++ ions produced by the fusion reaction on the Methane Gas Hydrate (MGH) surface of Jupiter. This reaction, p + d -> 3He++ + γ , produces 1030 of these ions per second. These have energies of 9 MeV and because they are so light, have velocities > 20,000 km/s and are completely stable. Compared to the expected ions, such as H+ (protons), He+, O+, S+, which have a wide range of energies, these 3He++ ions all have this high energy. The JEDI specialists have found a mysterious particle with a high energy distribution which appears to extend beyond the high energy limit of the ion detector at the right, labelled Mg/Na in the figure 1 above. But based on the reported time-of-flight (TOF) measured within the 6 cm detector, this particle appears to be between oxygen and sulfur, possibly Mg or Na or a combination of the two. In Cyclic Catastrophism, the complete range of elemental abundances known on Earth are present within Jupiter, so the presence of these elements is to be expected. Based on the comments in the paper, this is completely unexpected by the entire Juno team.

Comments by the authors of the cited paper:

Juno/JEDI observations of 0.01 to >10 MeV energetic ions in the Jovian auroral regions: Anticipating a source for polar X-ray emission
D. K. Haggerty, B. H. Mauk, C. P. Paranicas, G. Clark, P. Kollmann, A. M. Rymer,
S. J. Bolton, J. E. P. Connerney, S. M. Levin

"We can think of only two possible sources for this huge abundance of what is normally a minor ion at Jupiter:
  1. an iogenic source not observed in previous missions to Jupiter and
  2. a meteoric source as has been observed at other planets but not previously at Jupiter.
Iogenic material is ubiquitous in the inner magnetosphere, and the spectrum has been documented by previous missions. We do not see a reason that an iogenic source would create such a unique energy distribution; rather, we would expect that an iogenic source would create an energy distribution similar to sulfur. The energy distribution of the Mg/Na and the intensity at which it is observed during perijove one is unlike anything in the reported literature."

"Given the unique energy distribution and large abundance of the observed material, the apparent transitory nature of the source, and the initial results of the histogram analysis, we speculate that this is an observation of magnesium ions due to meteoric ablation, and we acknowledge that neither the source nor the composition has been conclusively demonstrated at this early stage of analysis."
"The Solar System ... four planets plus debris" Isaac Asimov