Our Solar System is full of planets and moons that are quite interesting, varying from dusty rock worlds like Mars to frigid collections of methane lakes like on Saturn’s moon Titan. But of all the objects orbiting the Sun, Jupiter has to be the most interesting to look at. There’s just so much going on in its swirling clouds that you could stare forever and never get bored.
NASA’s Juno orbiter has been doing some fantastic work as it orbits the gas giant, sending back stunning images of the planet in greater detail than anyone has ever seen. NASA choose to showcase one such image this week, and boy is it pretty.
“Dramatic atmospheric features in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere are captured in this view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft,” NASA explains in a new blog post. “The new perspective shows swirling clouds that surround a circular feature within a jet stream region called ‘Jet N6.’”
NASA says the image was snapped back on February 12th, 2019, and was taken during Juno’s 18th flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft was some 8,000 miles from the tops of the swirling vortex you see here, but that’s still close enough to capture some remarkable detail.
Jupiter is covered in massive storms that stretch for hundreds of miles into the planet. In terms of overall size, some of the storms — like the iconic Great Red Spot — could swallow Earth many times over. Understanding how the storms are born, live, and die, as well as what powers them, is something NASA’s Juno team has been working on for a long time now.
Much of Jupiter is still a mystery to scientists, as we have very little idea what the huge storm clouds are hiding deep within the planet. What factors determine the colors of the various clouds is also something researchers are still trying to figure out, and images like this one are eye candy for science fans.