Jupiter’s swirling Jovian clouds look like a Post-Impressionist painting in this stunning NASA image
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has already treated us to some incredible solar system wonders since arriving at Jupiter in June last year and now the planet’s Jovian clouds have been captured in all their beauty.
According to NASA, Juno captured this image when the spacecraft was 11,747 miles (18,906 km) above Jupiter’s clouds, or roughly the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia.
It was taken on 24 October when Juno was performing its ninth close flyby of the gas giant and the image was processed using data from the JunoCam imager by space enthusiasts Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran. One pixel represents around 7.75 miles (12.5km).
“Because of the Juno-Jupiter-Sun angle when the spacecraft captured this image, the higher-altitude clouds can be seen casting shadows on their surroundings,” NASA explained. “The behavior is most easily observable in the whitest regions in the image, but also in a few isolated spots in both the bottom and right areas of the image.”
Juno launched in August 2011 to probe beneath Jupiter’s cloud cover and study its auroras. A flyby in April revealed the planet’s now famous Great Red Spot, which is 1.3 times as wide as Earth, in glorious detail.
Since its arrival, NASA has been releasing raw images of the planet’s varied landscape and features to allow astronomers and photographers to process them. All of the shots were captured by Junocam, a wide-angle camera in polar orbit around the giant planet.
Juno has also been using its sensors to capture the sounds of Jupiter.
In September last year, the spacecraft used a Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment to recorded the radio waves caused by the activity of energy particles in the auroras that circle Jupiter’s north pole. The resulting recording occurred at too high a frequency for the human ear to hear, so NASA shifted it down into the audible spectrum and sped up its 13-hour duration to just 30 or so seconds. Needless to say, the results are haunting.
These “cries” into space have been known to exist for decades, but Juno finally allows NASA and its researchers to analyse them up close.