Hi, my name is Kyle and I’m one of NASA’s rocket scientists working on the Juno program. As you might have heard , on the Fourth of July our satellite entered Jupiter’s orbit and is working around the clock to provide us with as much information as possible before its planned deorbit into Jupiter’s atmosphere in February.
This is a truly historic opportunity and already, we’ve got some absolutely fascinating feedback from our probe. Thankfully, Cameron was kind enough to allow me to commandeer his article here at Paste to let you, the public, in on some of the amazing new facts that we now know about the fifth planet from the sun. Here is a small selection from the dozens of new things we’ve found out about Jupiter:
One of the first things we learned as the Juno satellite made its way into Jupiter’s orbit is that the gas giant is actually more flattering in a fall color palate. Up until this point, based on what pictures we could get using the Hubble Telescope, the scientific community had concluded that the planet was a “rosy beige”, which would of course categorize it as a summer. But now, with the level of detail in the images that Juno is sending back, we can now more actually ascribe the planet with a categorization of “golden beige” or even “peach”; making it a classic fall.
Luckily, as scientist we are trained not to see being wrong as a glass half empty, but instead half full. Already, we have engineers working on an earth-tone line that will hit the NASA runway in time for New York Fashion Week in September.
On somewhat of a disconcerting note though, it seems as if Jupiter might have a couple of heavenly body issues. While it’s still too soon to tell, preliminary data is suggesting that Jupiter may be feeling a bit weird, feeling a bit wider than it has in the past, and its status as the largest planet in the solar system isn’t helping Jupiter feel any better. Sure, it’s always been the biggest of the planets, but it seems like lately it has put on a couple of atmospheric layers and gravity on the surface seems a little… different than ten million years ago. Maybe it’s all in Jupiter’s mind, but it has reminded us here at NASA to be more sensitive about bandying about the term “Gas Giant”
There is something, however, that offsets this troubling news about Jupiter’s insecurities. The mathematicians in Houston have concluded, after an analysis of the planet’s current trajectory compared to trajectories recording in the past, that Jupiter is going to take an extra two weeks for itself this year. Though it certainly had the option available to it in any of its previous cycles, Jupiter always found itself with its metaphoric hands full. This year though, the astral sphere appears to have a bit of a stay-cation planned for its added time. This will undoubtedly be a relaxing and much needed break for the planet as it takes about eleven times longer to make it around the sun than it takes the earth. Certainly, if I had that much distance to travel, I would be breaking for much longer than two weeks.
Another fascinating revision to what we previously assumed as known fact is that Jupiter’s iconic red spot is not the mega-tornado that we had previously assumed, but in fact the roof to Ragin’ Rapids Indoor Water Park. As it turns out, what we viewed as a swirling mass of hell storm three times the size of earth, was just the sun reflecting off the roof of the building. Through an analysis of the radiation on the planet’s surface, we’ve come to the conclusion that Ragin’ Rapids has cleanly earned the title of “Most Splashin-ist Attraction Outside the Asteroid Belt”. With its thousands upon thousands of kilometers worth of rides and slides for the kids to enjoy, along with plenty of spa packages for the parents, Jupiter’s hottest way to cool down has fun for the whole family. Plus, it boasts the solar system’s largest wave pool, which could comfortably fit the entirety of North America in its deep end. As we speak, the higher-ups at NASA are in meetings to determine if they can shift around their schedule to make time to take a trip to the water park, while petitioning Congress for the funds to pay for admission. Considering the budgets passed for us in recent years though, we might not be going any time soon.
Not everything we’re learning is strictly science related; even an organization as agust as NASA isn’t immune to a little gossip. As Juno was making its way to Jupiter, it wound up picking up some unexpected data from Jupiter’s moons.
While we here assumed that the moon’s Io and Ganymede were a together, it seems that Callisto views things in a little bit of a different light. Unfortunately, Juno was unable to transmit too much both because moon observation was not in the mission parameters and the satellite did not want to barge into things, but UV readings of the surface of Callisto suggest that its proximity to Ganymede might make more of difference to the two moons relationship than previously thought. In order find out more about what Io thinks of this, we would have to task a mission for the exclusive intention of seeing how things unfold, so until then, all we have here at NASA are theories.
In other moon news, though brief the passing was, Juno was able to settle a long standing debate in the scientific community: whether or not there is life on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Though flybys of the moon’s surface were happening as early as 1973 with the Pioneer 10 mission, only now with Juno’s latest readings can we confirm what we suspected. As it turns out there is life on Jupiter; a lovely family named the Hendersons. Jack and Mary Henderson moved to Europa in 2011 after Jack got a job at the NBC affiliate there. Soon after the move, Mary became pregnant with their first child, a healthy baby boy named Charlie. Charlie was followed soon after by Rebecca in 2013, and while Mary has her hands full raising the two she has, it seems that the couple hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a third. While life on Jupiter’s sixth moon is not always easy, the imaging that Juno was able to produce as it passed suggests that the Hendersons are happy and thriving.
Surely, as you are the readership of Cameron’s articles here at Paste, I don’t have to talk down to you about the complexities of astrophysics, but sometimes our job requires a different type of science; sometimes it takes the eye of psychologist to translate what the math is telling us. Such is the case with some of the readings we’re receiving from Juno.
Jupiter gets its moniker from the Roman Sky-god of the same name, and has always been considered that King of the Planets due to its size and position in the heavens. According to scans of the planet’s atmospheric composition, however, it seems that Jupiter never really wanted the title and responsibilities that came with it. Apparently, the planet feels burdened by the leadership role and Jupiter seems to feel a bit trapped; if not Jupiter, than whom? Certainly not Uranus. Though troubling, in a way, there’s a certain comfort knowing that things are not always so easy for a planet with the stature of Jupiter; there’s a beautiful relatability in vulnerability and we at NASA look forward to connecting with the celestial monarch on a much more personal level in the future.
I’ll leave you with the most shocking discovery that we came upon in all of the five year trip that Juno has taken: As it turns out, there is another planet in our solar system. Unbeknownst to us here on Earth, just beyond Jupiter, nestled between it and Saturn (a little closer to the former than the latter) there is an object whose dimensions and orbit qualify it as a planet unto itself. It turns out that Carl, as the planet is named, while definitionally rotates around our sun at the center of our solar system, also lines up so perfectly with Jupiter’s orbit that the bigger planet blocks the little one and we’ve never been able to see it before. Despite all our observations throughout human history, only now have we been able to get a satellite up there in just the right position to have even noticed Carl. Who knew!?
Obviously, more observation is required before we can jump to too many conclusions about Carl, but it seems as if the surface is iron based, with a nitrogen heavy atmosphere, and a generally affable disposition. It goes without saying that Carl has rocked the scientific community and plans to explore this historic discovery are being put into place as we speak.
Pluto was not available for comment on how it feels about Carl “skipping the line” in the process of becoming a planet.
Note: This is a satirical article posted under the comedy section of an entertainment website. Notice the “comedy” tag at the very top of this piece. None of this is true. Geez.
Cameron Petti is a Chicago-land native. He’s currently attempting to survive off of freelance theatre work, and hasn’t had to eat too much cat food to achieve this goal. Check out how happy and full of life Cameron is on tumblr and twitter.