NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured an image of Jupiter’s clouds, which are strangely swirling and have striking shades of blue. The image was taken in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere on Oct. 24 at 10:24 a.m. PDT.
NASA stated that the Juno spacecraft was about 11,747 miles from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds when it took the photo. The spacecraft is said to be performing its ninth close flyby of the planet Jupiter.
In the image, you will see the higher-altitude clouds are castings shadows on their surrounding because of the Juno-Jupiter-Sun angle. You will also notice the whitest regions in the photo and some few isolated spots in the bottom and right areas of the photo. The image’s scale is about 7.75 miles for each pixel or about 12 km/pixel.
The churning swirls of clouds with blue, grey and white colors show the intricacy of the extreme atmosphere of Jupiter. They also look like the stunning and unique Van Gogh painting.
Meanwhile, the Juno spacecraft entered the polar orbit of Jupiter on July 5, 2016. It aims to explore and conduct a scientific investigation of the gas giant planet. It is a NASA space probe and was built by Lockheed Martin.
The spacecraft is managed and controlled by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011.
The mission of Juno is to gauge the composition of Jupiter’s magnetic field, polar magnetosphere, and gravity field. It will also look for clues on how the planet is shaped and examine its rocky core, mass distribution, and the amount of water in the deep atmosphere, as well as its winds that could reach a speed up to 618 kilometers per hour. Juno did not only observe the Jupiter’s swirling clouds, but also some of the powerful auroras in the gas giant’s skies.
Barry Mauk, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said the brightest auroras at Jupiter are caused by some kind of turbulent acceleration process that they do not fully understand yet. He further said that there are hints in their data suggesting that the power density of the auroral generation becomes stronger, the process becomes unstable, and a new acceleration process takes over. It is expected that the spacecraft will continue exploring the planet Jupiter from orbit until 2018, according to Space.