1. Question: JUNO Mission (UPSC Mains GS1-2017)
  2. Introduction: JUNO’s origin
    1. Body#1: Earth’s Origin?
    2. Body#2: How JUNO Mission will help?
  3. Conclusion: Summary type

Question: JUNO Mission (UPSC Mains GS1-2017)

Q5. How does the Juno Mission of NASA help to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth? (150 words, 10m, asked in UPSC Mains-2017. GS Paper-1)

Brainstorms and loud thoughts:

  • For UPSC, you’ve to prepare current affairs worth atleast one calendar year preceding the exam year.
  • So, for Mains-2017, it’ll be beginning from January 2016. JUNO Mission was in news because it had began orbit in Jupiter WEF July 2016. So, it’s not an unexpected question of the Mains-2017 per se.
  • BUT it’s an unexpected question for the GSM1, because physical geography is part of GSM1 syllabus but science technology is part of GSM3 syllabus. And even there, difficult to recall features of a non-ISRO mission in such great depth.
  • So, while I can dig google and prepare a perfect comprehensive answer but not possible to do same in the real exam. Let’s try to frame an answer like this:
  • Introduction: Origin and objectives of Juno mission:
  • Body#1: Cut paste points about the Earth’s origin from Class11 NCERT and General Studies Manual.
  • Body#2: Somehow try to connect things among Jupiter vs. Earth using NASA’s Juno mission.

Introduction: JUNO’s origin

USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Agency Administration (NASA) had sent JUNO Mission spacecraft to planet Jupiter to study its temperature, clouds, water composition, gravitational and magnetic fields; and other properties. This will enhance our knowledge of Earth in the following manner:

To fill up 150 words, I could have tried padding the introduction by giving full form of NASA, but there is a pitfall: you’ve to know the exact full form, NASA is not ‘agency’ but ‘administration’! I could have started with origin of Earth / Jupiter but it’ll be lengthy so better to use it in the body instead of introduction.

Body#1: Earth’s- What do we know so far?

  1. Our solar system, formed from a cloud of dust and gas, came into being a mere four-and-a-half billion years ago.
  2. After the birth of Sun, a nuclear fusion in its centre caused a great wind, which blew away remaining gas and dust in the vast regions of our solar system.
  3. Over the period of time, these giant clouds of gas and dust collapsed and formed planets.
  4. In the inner solar nebula, the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) were too hot to hold the volatile gases. Hence their composition is (1) core: is metallic (2) mantle: is silicate (3) atmospheres: is thin.
  5. But, In the outer solar nebula, temperatures were cool enough for the abundant gases to accumulate. As a result, the Jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are gas giants- made up of hydrogen, helium, ammonia and methane. But, we don’t know much about their core and mantle.
  6. Scientists believe that Earth’s hydrogen and helium were stripped off because of the solar winds. But cooling of the Earth released the gases and water vapor from inside its solid mass. This process is known as ‘Degassing‘. Subsequent condensation of water vapor resulted into formation of oceans over the Earth. Later, life originated in these oceans as complex organic molecules and unicellular bacteria.

Body#2: How JUNO Mission improve this knowledge?

NASA Juno Mission

  1. Jupiter took most of the mass that blew away from Sun. It has twice the combined material of the other bodies in the solar system. Studying their composition holds key to unlocking the heavy elements which are no longer in Earth’s system but were originally present.
  2. Unlike Earth, the solar winds couldn’t blow away Jupiter’s hydrogen and helium- because of the distance. So, Jupiter’s atmosphere ought to have evolved from a mechanism other than ‘degassing’. We’ve to study this mechanism to refine our own ideas of how Earth’s atmosphere was born?
  3. Due to extreme atmospheric pressure, Jupiter’s hydrogen turned liquid and formed large oceans. Studying this will help to know how our atmospheric gases behaved during origin of Earth?
  4. Jupiter’s gravitational influence is said to be so enormous that it affects orbits of all planets. JUNO Mission’s gravitational readings will refine our understanding of Earth’s annual journey around the Sun.
  5. Jupiter has strongest aurora emissions in the entire solar system. We’ve to study them to deepen our understanding of Earth’s own northern and southern lights.
  6. Effect of Jupiter’s gravity and magnetism on its moons and vice-versa- Studying these interrelations will enhance our understanding of Earth-Moon relationship. We may even arrive at a mathematical formula to shortlist the planets in entire galaxy where we can find lifeforms!
  • This is already 500 words- more than enough to reach a 150 / 250 words limit. If you could guestimate even three out of these six points in actual exam then also it was sufficient!
  • This was a “discuss / enumerate” type 150 words question, and we already enumerated decent points in the body itself. So as such, conclusion is unnecessary. Nonetheless, let’s make a summary type conclusion (presuming it was a 250 words question):

Conclusion (Summary)

  • In our solar system, planet Jupiter has the largest surface, biggest ocean, strongest gravity, strongest magnetism.
  • This giant holds answers to aforementioned key questions regarding our own atmosphere, its gaseous composition, magnetism, orbital path and relationship with the moon.
  • Indeed, JUNO mission’s Jupiter data will thus help refining and enhancing our understanding about the origin and evolution of Earth.