In recent months NASA has been frequently releasing some breathtaking pictures of Jupiter and its violent storms taken by its Juno spacecraft. As per the latest reports, NASA has once again released some stunning images of Jovian clouds in striking shades of blue captured by Juno during its recent flyby to the largest planet of the solar system.
The Juno space probe snapped this image when it was just 11,747 miles (18,906 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds. This distance is almost similar to the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia. NASA reported that the stunning color-enhanced image, which captures a cloud system in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere, was taken by Juno on Oct. 24, 2017, at 10:24 a.m. PDT (1:24 p.m. EDT) when the spacecraft was at a latitude of 57.57 degrees (just about three-fifths of the distance from Jupiter’s equator to its north pole). It was Juno’s ninth close flyby to the gas giant.
The newest image of Jupiter’s storm with its bluish shade and hues looks gorgeous to the eyes, and it seems that some cosmic watercolor artist has painted the picture using his imagination. Actually, the JunoCam instrument fitted to the Juno spacecraft captures all the images of Jupiter and sends it to Juno team. The raw data uploaded to the JunoCam website is then collected by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran, and then they processed it in a creative way to create stunning artistic images of Jupiter.
The spatial scale of the latest image is 7.75 miles/ pixel and one can clearly sea swirling cloud, and raging storms stretched to a distance of thousands of miles on the surface of Jupiter. NASA informed that one of the swirling clouds was more than 4,000 miles (6,500 km) long, with a range of colors between dark blue and white. Some clouds oval shaped and some were circular. In a statement, NASA said, “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. 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 spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011, and after five years voyage, it finally entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. Since then it has been revolving around the gas giant and undergoing frequent flybys across the planet. The Juno spacecraft along with JunoCam are working perfectly and are sending important data and stunning pictures regarding Jupiter, its northern and southern hemisphere and its cloud tops.
Previously NASA thought of burning up Juno, but later it decided to extend the mission until July 2018. Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement that the decision to forego the burn was the right thing to do thus preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery. NASA officials said that the next close flyby of Juno is scheduled to take place on December 16, 2017.