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NASA probe grazes Jupiter's clouds in brush with Great Red Spot

NASA的探测器掠过木星云层与大红斑擦肩而过



A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter began transmitting data and images on Tuesday from humanity's closest brush with the Great Red Spot, a flyby of the colossal, crimson storm that has fascinated Earthbound observers for hundreds of years.

NASA的一艘围绕木星飞行的探测器从星期二起,开始传回木星相关的数据和图片,这是人类和木星的大红斑擦肩而过的最近距离。大红斑是木星上会移动的深红色巨大风暴,几百年来一直吸引着地球上的观测者。

The Juno probe logged its close encounter with Jupiter's most distinctive feature on Monday evening Pacific time as it passed about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the clouds of the mammoth cyclone.

在本周一太平洋时间下午,朱诺号探测器在飞过离木星上空巨大风暴云层5,600英里(9,000公里)的时候,记录下了和木星最显著特征的近距离接触。

But it will take days for readings captured by Juno's array of cameras and other instruments to be delivered to scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and much longer still for the data to be analyzed.
但是解读这些由朱诺号探测器的一系列摄像机捕捉到的图片需要花费数天时间。其他数据则会传输到给位于帕萨迪纳和加利福尼亚的喷气动力实验室(JPL)里的科学家,分析这些数据则需要更长的时间。

Scientists hope the exercise will help unlock such mysteries as what forces are driving the storm, how long it has existed, how deeply it penetrates the planet's lower atmosphere and why it appears to be gradually dissipating.

科学家希望本次行动能够帮助解开木星的一些谜团,比如到底是什么样的力量在驱使着如此巨大的风暴,这些风暴已经存在多久了,并且穿过木星的低层大气有多深,而为什么风暴又会渐渐消散。

Astronomers also believe a greater understanding of the Great Red Spot may yield clues to the structure, mechanics and formation of Jupiter as a whole.

天文学家相信,如果能够对木星的大红斑理解得更透彻的话,甚至可以为木星整体的结构、机制和形成提供线索。

"This is a storm bigger than the entire Earth. It's been there for hundreds of years. We want to know what makes it tick," said Steve Levin, the lead project scientist for the Juno mission at JPL.

JPL的朱诺号任务项目负责人,科学家史蒂夫·莱文(Steve Levin)说:“木星上的风暴比整个地球的面积还要大,并且在木星已经存在了数百年时间,为此我们想知道是什么力量在驱动着这种风暴。”

Levin said the storm is believed to be powered by energy oozing from Jupiter's interior combined with rotation of the planet, but the precise inner workings are unknown.

莱文认为,该风暴是由来自于木星内部伴随着木星旋转所渗透出的能量来驱动的,但是其精确的内部机制仍然是一个谜。

Some of the most valuable data from Monday's flyby is expected to come from an instrument designed to peer into the red spot at six different depths, Levin said.

莱文说,朱诺号的一个被设计成专门用来从6个不同的纵深探测大红斑的仪器,希望可以在周一为我们带来其中一些最有价值的数据。

The churning cyclone ranks as the largest known storm in the solar system, measuring about 10,000 miles (16,000 km) in diameter with winds clocked at hundreds of miles (km) an hour around its outer edges. It appears as a deep, red orb surrounded by layers of pale yellow, orange and white.

木星翻腾的飓风是整个太阳系中已知的最大风暴,直径有10,000英里(16,000公里),并且在其外部边缘地带肆虐着时速数百英里(公里)的狂风。大红斑的颜色,看起来像被层层鹅黄色、橙色和白色包围着的深红色球体。

The red spot has been continuously monitored from Earth since about 1830, though observations believed to have been of the same feature date back more than 350 years.

早在1830年左右起,大红斑现象就一直以来持续被地球上的人们所监测到,而有些观点认为对其观测可以追溯到350多年以前。

Once wide enough to swallow three Earth-sized planets, the famed Jovian weather system has been shrinking for the past 100 years and may eventually disappear altogether.

大红斑之巨大足以吞下3个地球大小的行星,然而该木星的气候系统在过去的100年间一直在持续减弱,并可能最终完全消失。

Still, the spot remains the most prominent characteristic of the solar system's largest planet, a gargantuan ball of gas -- mostly hydrogen and helium -- 11 times the diameter of Earth with more than twice as much mass as all the other planets combined.

不过大红斑依然是该太阳系最大行星上最引人注目的特征。木星是一颗巨大的气态行星,大部分由氢和氦组成,并且比地球的直径大11倍,质量比其他太阳系行星之和还要重2倍以上。

Monday's encounter with the Great Red Spot was the latest of 12 flyby missions currently scheduled by NASA for Juno, which is to make its next close approach to Jupiter's cloud tops on Sept. 1. 

本周一和大红斑的擦肩而过是最新的一次,NASA为其制定了12次飞行掠过的任务,下一次近距离接触木星云层顶部被安排在9月1日。