After many years of heading NASA’s exploration of Saturn, Jupiter and their moons, the house physicist describes what now we have realized and what future missions should now reply
19 July 2022
SOME 750 million kilometres from right here, an enormous ball banded in orange and white hangs within the blackness of house: Jupiter. Journey about the identical distance once more and also you hit the ringed planet Saturn. Of all of the planets, these two fuel giants dominate our photo voltaic system – and over the previous twenty years, they’ve additionally labored their approach into our collective imaginations as spacecraft despatched to discover them and their moons have returned their findings. We’ve seen a hexagonal storm dancing round Jupiter’s north pole, methane rain on considered one of Saturn’s moons, Titan, and found liquid water spewing from geysers on the floor of one other of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus.
Many individuals have labored on these discoveries, however Scott Bolton on the Southwest Analysis Institute’s Area Science & Engineering Division in San Antonio, Texas, has been a central determine. After overseeing the Galileo mission to Jupiter between 1989 and 2003, he was the lead scientist on the Cassini mission that studied Saturn for 13 years till 2017 and is now on the helm of the Juno mission, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. New Scientist spoke to him about his twenty years of exploring the fuel giants and what we nonetheless need to be taught.
Joshua Howgego: You have been a key scientist on the Cassini mission to Saturn and it turned out to be an iconic piece of house exploration. Take us again to the late 90s when it started.
Scott Bolton: Cassini was a observe on to Voyager [a mission preceding Galileo], which had passed by Jupiter and Saturn. There have been two Voyager probes they usually have been each succesful …