JUNO’s Exploration of Jupiter

Scott Bolton

2371th Meeting Abstract
Friday, January 6, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

About the Lecture:

JupiterExploration of JupiterNASA's Juno is a mission of discovery and exploration that will conduct an in-depth study of Jupiter, the most massive planet in the solar system. Juno is designed to peer for the first time through Jupiter's thick clouds deep into its atmosphere. The goal of the mission is to better understand the origin and evolution of this gas giant planet, and pave the way to a better understanding of our solar system and of the planetary systems around other stars.

Juno is focused on four major areas of investigation.  (1)  Jupiter's solid core and abundance of heavy metals in the atmosphere make it an ideal model to understand the origin of giant planets. Juno will measure global abundances of oxygen and nitrogen by mapping the gravitational field and using microwave observations of water and ammonia.  (2)  Juno will map Jupiter's gravitation and magnetic fields, revealing the interior structure, the origin of the magnetic field, the mass of its core, the nature of deep convection, and the abundance of water.  (3)  Jupiter has the most massive atmosphere of all the planets. By mapping variations in atmospheric composition, temperature, cloud opacity and dynamics to depths greater than 100 bars at all latitudes, Juno will determine the global structure and dynamics of Jupiter’s atmosphere below the cloud tops for the first time.  (4)  Jupiter’s powerful magnetospheric dynamics create the brightest aurora in our solar system. Juno will measure the distribution of the charged particles, their associated fields, and the concurrent UV emissions of the planet’s polar magnetosphere, greatly improving our understanding of this remarkable phenomena.

Juno entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4th of this year.  A trim burn in October adjusted its orbit to bring its closest approach much nearer the planet.  It will reach this point in its orbit in early December and the results from the close flyby should be back and preliminary analyses ready by the beginning of the new year.  This lecture will discuss the Juno mission, its instrumentation and its objectives, the results that have been returned thus far and what they tell us about the Jovian system, the formation of the solar system and about the planets and solar systems around other stars.

About the Speaker

Scott J. Bolton is the Principle Investigator for NASA's Juno mission.  He also is Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute's Space Science and Engineering Division, and he holds a special appointment as Senior Staff Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Among many previous positions with NASA, Scott served the Galileo mission as a member of the plasma spectrometer team and plasma wave instrument team and chaired the Titan science group of the Cassini-Huygens mission,

Scott's works primarily in the planetary sciences with a focus on the giant planets and the origin of the solar system.  His research includes modeling of the Jovian and Saturnian radiation belts, atmospheric dynamics and composition, and the formation and evolution of the solar system.  He has authored over 250 scientific papers, five book chapters, and consulted and appeared in five major space science documentaries.

In addition to his research, Scoot leads several educational outreach programs aimed at developing science, math and art skills for young students, including the Juno Educational Outreach Program, among many other such efforts. He produces concerts, art exhibits and documentaries through his company, Artistic Services, aimed at inspiring children to pursue their education.  Among other notable educational projects, Scott worked with the composer Vangelis (Chariots of Fire among many others) to create the Vangelis Foundation in Athens, Greece dedicated to the combined study of Science, Math, Art, Music and Philosophy.  And he has worked with a variety of companies to develop educational toys, including Lego, which includes models of Jupiter and its two largest moons in some of its kits.

Among many awards, Scott is the recipient of JPL Individual Awards for Exceptional Excellence in Leadership and for Excellence in Management, over twenty NASA Group Achievement Awards, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.

Scott earned a BS Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of California - Berkeley.

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