May 26 (UPI) -- The first wave of scientific data collected by NASA's Juno probe has been relayed to scientists, revealing a handful of Jovian surprises.
One the surprises was revealed by the probe's imager, JunoCam. Dozens of Earth-sized, swirling storms crowd Jupiter's poles.
"We're puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter's north pole doesn't look like the south pole," Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute, said in a news release. "We're questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we're going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?"
The wave of scientific data includes measurements recorded during an approach that brought Juno within 2,600 miles of Jupiter's clouds. Thermal microwave radiation measurements from the flyby have revealed complex and mystifying atmospheric structures, including massive belts of ammonia clouds.
The new scientific data also includes readings from Juno's magnetometer. The observations suggest Jupiter's magnetic field -- known to be the strongest in the solar system -- is even more intense than models predicted. It is also irregularly shaped.
"Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we've never had before," said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others."
The latest revelations are to be shared in 46 scientific papers -- two in the journal Science and 44 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.