The Helium Mass Fraction in Jupiter's Atmosphere

Science  10 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5263, pp. 849-851
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5263.849


On 7 December 1995, the NASA Galileo probe provided in situ measurements of the helium abundance in the atmosphere of Jupiter. A Jamin interferometer measured the refractive index of the jovian atmosphere in the pressure region from 2 to 14 bars. These measurements indicate that the atmospheric helium mole fraction is 0.136 ± 0.004. The corresponding helium mass fraction is slightly below the presolar value, which suggests that separation of helium from hydrogen in Jupiter's interior is only in its early stages.