Of all the planets in the solar system, Jupiter is probably the most fascinating and interesting to look at. The gas giant is traversed by a series of swirling cloud layers that run horizontally across the planet’s face — many of them harboring massive storms that stretch for hundreds of miles into Jupiter’s atmosphere.
One of the most famous of these storms is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, which has been raging in the planet’s southern hemisphere for more than 350 years. According to BGR, the iconic anticyclone – dubbed so because it furiously spins in a counterclockwise rotation – is so enormous that it “could swallow Earth many times over.”
But the gas giant’s tumultuous atmosphere is sprinkled with smaller-sized cyclones and hurricanes that look equally enchanting. And, thanks to NASA’s Juno spacecraft, we are now treated to precisely such a remarkable sight.
The intrepid space orbiter has been circling Jupiter’s system since 2016 and snapping glorious photos of the gas giant along the way. The data collected by the Juno mission, as well as the probe’s superb snapshots of Jupiter and its spectacular swirling clouds, are helping scientists piece together the puzzle of how the planet formed and evolved.
During its latest trip around Jupiter, the spacecraft grabbed a particularly striking image of the Jovian clouds. The snapshot was recently unveiled on the NASA website and shows the gas giant from a “new perspective.”
While many of the gorgeous views beamed back by Juno typically showcase Jupiter’s turbulent southern hemisphere, generally portraying the beguiling Great Red Spot, the latest photo offers a glimpse of the “dramatic” atmospheric features that populate the planet’s northern hemisphere.
The incredible Juno photo showcases Jupiter’s majestic white clouds as they swirl around a circular feature locked within a jet stream nicknamed Jet N6. The snapshot is certainly a sight to behold and conjures up images of Post-Impressionist oil paintings. In fact, CNN compared the recently-released photo of Jupiter to Vincent van Gogh’s emblematic “Starry Night” painting.
As NASA explained, the stunning Jupiter photo was captured by the Juno spacecraft on February 12. At the time, the probe was performing its 18th flyby of the gas giant – out of a total of 32 scheduled for the Juno mission – and had swooped down to Jupiter’s surface as close as 8,000 miles above its cloud tops.
Dramatic Jupiter! Atmospheric features in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere are captured in this Feb. 12 view from @NASAJuno, giving us a new perspective that shows swirling clouds surrounding a circular feature within a jet stream region. Take a look: https://t.co/oF9LtM86FU pic.twitter.com/SciVWskSB8
— NASA (@NASA) February 24, 2019
As NASA pointed out, the imaged was processed by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill, who rotated the original Juno snapshot approximately 100 degrees to the right and color-enhanced it to create an out-of-this-world view of Jupiter.
Aside from the processed photo, NASA also released the raw images taken by the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. If you’re curious what the original photos look like, head to the Mission Juno website and peruse them at your leisure. In addition, you can also play around with them to process the images into your own artistic view of Jupiter’s swirling clouds.
The Juno spacecraft will continue to buzz the gas giant until 2022 when the mission will come at an end.