Earth-based telescope helping guide Juno spacecraft through Jupiter exploration

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-02 07:43:34|Editor: ying
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SAN FRANCISCO, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Researchers are using the Earth-bound Gemini North telescope to provide high-resolution images to help guide the Juno spacecraft's exploration of Jupiter.

"These observations trace vertical flows that cannot be measured any other way, illuminating the weather, climate and general circulation in Jupiter's atmosphere," Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, said about his work to use a longer-wavelength filter on the telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii to look at cloud opacity on the giant planet.

Being supported by Earth-based observations, according to a news release from UC Berkeley on Saturday, the Juno spacecraft, of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is currently looping around Jupiter.

Using adaptive optics that removes atmospheric blur, astronomers at the Gemini North telescope are revealing "a treasure-trove of fascinating events in Jupiter's atmosphere," said Glenn Orton, the principal investigator for this Gemini adaptive optics investigation and coordinator for Earth-based observations supporting the Juno project at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The observations have produced a composite color infrared image of Jupiter showing haze particles over a range of altitudes.

"Events like this show that there's still much to learn about Jupiter's atmosphere," Orton was quoted as saying. "The combination of Earth-based and spacecraft observations is a powerful one-two punch in exploring Jupiter."