NASA’s Juno spacecraft has just captured something incredible

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has just captured something incredible

New images of Jupiter from Juno will absolutely blow your mind.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft is finally starting to return images of Jupiter after entering orbit back in July, and they are pretty incredible. Juno obtained the data last weekend as it made its closest approach to Jupiter on its highly elliptical orbit, and the images show the swirling clouds at each of its planet in the highest detail we have ever seen.

Juno snapped the photos while just 4,200 kilometers from the cloud tops of the gas giant. A total of 6 megabytes of data have been downlinked to Earth, and scientists are analyzing it. But just from their first glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, scientists can see that it’s like nothing they expected — it’s much more blue than other parts of the planet and there are a lot of storms. It doesn’t have those trademark bands of storms like the rest of the planet.

Scientists will use the spacecraft’s special instruments to examine the layers of the gas giant and better understand its composition, temperature, motion and other aspects.

“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.”

“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome. “These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics.”

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