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A Cosmic Painting: Check Out This Stunning View of Cyclones on Jupiter’s North Pole

A composite, false color image of Jupiter's North Pole. Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing by Gerald Eichstädt.

The image was obtained by the JunoCam instrument during four of the Juno spacecraft's close passes by Jupiter, which took place between February 17 and July 25, 2020. 

The more we explore the solar system, the more we uncover its many wonders. Our cosmic neighborhood is a beautiful, vividly colorful place. Many of its secrets have been revealed throughout the year’s thanks to the numerous spacecraft sent out the explore what’s out there. Spacecraft such as Voyager 1 and 2 have offered an unprecedented view of the solar system and the gas giants. Cassini and New Horizons have helped us better understand planets such as Saturn and its moons. New Horizons has taken us to see the new horizons of our solar system. The spacecraft snapped some of the best photographs of Pluto and its moon system.

Another spacecraft that has helped us better understand our solar system is the Juno mission. It launched in August 2011, and its mission is to understand the origin and evolution of the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. Its goals include looking for a split planetary core, mapping the gas giant’s magnetic field, measuring water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observing auroras on Jupiter. As it circles the gas giant, Juno turns its cameras towards the gas giant, snapping incredible images. The latest batch of photographs is mind-boggling.

Data on the cosmic painting

The above image was taken in October 2018 by Juno as the spacecraft made its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft was  4,400 miles from the planet’s cloud tops, at a latitude of approximately 40 degrees north, as revealed by NASA. Cyclones at Jupiter’s north pole appear as vividly colored swirls in this extreme false-color image from NASA’s Juno mission. The vast and persistent cyclone at Jupiter’s north pole is evident in the center of the image, enclosed by smaller cyclones varying in size from 4,000 to 4,600 kilometers.

Together, this storm pattern covers an area that would dwarf our planet, NASA reports. The color selections in this image reveal Jupiter’s beauty and the subtle details present in the dynamic structure of the Jupiter cloud. Each new observation Juno provides of Jupiter’s atmosphere complements the computer simulations and further refines our understanding of how storms evolve. The Juno mission provided the first clear views of Jupiter’s polar regions, and its images of these regions offer a never-before-seen opportunity for scientists to study.

Juno’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument has also mapped this area, as well as a similar pattern of storms at the planet’s south pole. Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt made the composite image using data obtained by the JunoCam instrument during four of the Juno spacecraft’s close passes by Jupiter between February 17 and July 25, 2020. The color is greatly exaggerated, partially due to combining many individual images to create this view. As revealed by NASA, JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process image products by clicking here.

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Source and reference: NASA / Juno Mission