Scientists report the discovery of a new population of high-energy heavy ions trapped in the mid-latitudes of Jupiter. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
Jupiter’s planetary radiation environment is the most intense in the solar system. NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting the planet at the closest distance since 2016 than its predecessors. It explores Jupiter’s inner radiation belts from a unique polar orbit. It was she who made it possible for the first time to conduct a complete study of the radiation belts of the planet. It helped open up a new population of high-energy heavy ions trapped in the mid-latitudes of the gas giant.
The authors applied a new technique to detect particles. They used high-resolution navigation cameras, the main purpose of which is to use sky observations to calculate the exact orientation of the spacecraft. Scientists also recorded when high-energy ions hit a special camera on the Juno spacecraft.
To identify the ion species, the authors examined the morphology of the particles’ sensory impacts on Juno. Trapped ions found at mid-latitudes have energies in excess of 100 megaelectronvolts per nucleon. Their detection complements our understanding of the powerful radiation environment around Jupiter.