Juno spacecraft stuns scientists

Juno spacecraft stuns scientists

NASA's Juno spacecraft is currently circling Jupiter, and it is sending back some incredible images back to Earth.

It may be one of the most stunning achievements in modern human history: NASA has gotten a spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and send back pictures and data to Earth. It’s the first time June has been able to send back data since entering orbit around the gas giant in July, and the pictures are absolutely mind-blowing.

Images released show the swirling clouds at incredible detail, as well as taken a picture of Jupiter from an angle impossible on Earth, showing the bizarre bluish north pole in fascinating detail. The spacecraft also took infrared imagery of the planet that is truly jaw-dropping.

Juno took the pictures from 4,200 kilometers away, and so far 6 megabytes of data have been sent back to Earth, which scientists are analyzing. The first pictures show that the poles are very different from what scientists expected, and look nothing like the rest of the planet.

Scientists will continue to use the special instruments on the spacecraft to further probe Jupiter’s many layers and understand more about the largest planet in our solar system.

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

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