A closer look at Jupiter

The vital role that Jupiter plays in discovering the origins of our solar system was explored by a Leicester astronomer and Juno science team member.

Dr Jonathan Nichols (pictured) from our Department of Physics and Astronomy was invited to give a talk for TEDx Wandsworth on 25 November 2017, shining wonder and light on NASA’s Juno probe as it skims Jupiter’s ferocious defenses to decode life and geology. His talk has now been posted online.

The TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to spark conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences.

How we got from dust and gas to life on Earth has been a 5 billion year product development cycle, with Jupiter as the master decoder. Without this monster planet shaping our solar system, there would be no us.

It’s why NASA’s Juno mission, launched in 2011 to explore the great planet, has so much to tell us about our origins. Dr Jonathan Nichols is part of the Juno science team here at Leicester, home to the only formal UK science lead for the mission. In his talk he shines wonder and light on this remarkable craft as it skims Jupiter’s ferocious defenses with the daring do of a superhero. The returning images and data have been revelatory, challenging scientific assumptions; and the work is not done yet.

Watch Dr Nichols’s talk in full:

Dr Nichols’ research uses Hubble Space Telescope data, having been awarded time to observe Jupiter, Saturn, Ganymede, and exoplanet WASP-12b, and is presently also working with Juno data as a Juno Science Team member. He contributed to the BBC’s Wonders of the Solar System, and has appeared on Stargazing Live, The Sky at Night and Discovery Channel’s Jupiter: Close Encounter.

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