While the Blue Marble image that NASA gifted us in 1972 still remains a breathtakingly beautiful photograph of Jupiter, NASA has just released a stunning new image called Jupiter Marble, which brilliantly captures the planet’s enormous spiraling storm, otherwise known as the Great Red Spot.
As CNET reports, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, which is so extreme that its size is roughly the equivalent of two Earths, appears in NASA’s new image as a spinning and brightly colored marmalade-orange patch, which helps to give the planet an even more marble-like appearance.
This anticyclonic storm is believed to have been raging for the past 350 years and can be easily viewed simply by using a four-inch telescope and aiming it at Jupiter. Because May 8, 2019, will mark Jupiter’s “opposition” — it will be at its brightest at this point in time — telescopes should easily be able to capture at least four of its moons, including Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa.
Jupiter Marble was color enhanced by NASA and is a combination of three separate images that the Juno spacecraft obtained on February 12, 2019. All three images were captured between 9:59 a.m. PST and 10:39 p.m. PST, when Juno was hovering at a distance of between 16,700 and 59,300 miles above the planet’s clouds. At this time, Juno was concluding its 17th pass of Jupiter.
Kevin M. Gill, who is a software engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles — but also calls himself a “planetary science wrangler” for NASA — later put the three images together to create Jupiter’s vivid and unforgettable appearance, so that he could highlight the beauty of the planet’s many storms and swirling clouds.
Gill is one of many citizen scientist volunteers who has been taking raw images available from Juno’s outreach camera and then creatively processing them to come up with dramatic new images, including the most recent Jupiter Marble one.
Jupiter’s special outreach camera is the world’s first, and according to Forbes, uses a two-megapixel, 58° field of view camera. While the vast majority of astronomers do not use these images, the online citizen science community does, and with the images made available free of charge for anyone to download, those fascinated by Jupiter’s beauty (like Gill) are able to highlight these features and share them with the world.
Besides the most recent NASA Jupiter Marble image which was created by Gill, other citizen scientists who have also created their own images, including Björn Jónsson, a software engineer from Iceland, Gerald Eichstädt, a mathematician from Germany, and Sean Doran, who is a visual artist from London.