Probe captures more stunning close-up pictures of Jupiter

Oil painting swirls, raging storms and Jupiter’s famous ‘Great Red Spot’: Stunning close-ups of the planet are captured by NASA’S Juno probe

  • Stunning images captured by NASA space telescope JunoCam shows swirling gas clouds covering Jupiter
  • The dramatic pictures of Jupiter’s ‘chaotic and turbulent’ clouds are colour-enhanced by NASA technicians 
  • Junocam is designed to take pictures of the planet’s polar regions to give clues about how it was formed
  • The solar-powered spacecraft was launched in 2011 and entered a polar orbit of Jupiter in July, 2016  
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Stunning images of the swirling gas clouds and raging storms covering Jupiter have been revealed by NASA.

The space agency’s Juno probe captured the images using its on-board camera, known as the JunoCam.

It was specifically designed to take pictures of the planet’s polar regions in its quest to search for clues about how the planet formed.

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Despite the planet’s beautiful ‘cloud’ gases captured Jupiter’s cloud-shrouded planet may not even have a surface that humans could stand on

Juno was launched on August 5, 2011 before entering a polar orbit of the planet in July, 2016. 

JunoCam captured these close-up photos of Jupiter’s poles, as well as the shroud of swirling clouds that cover the gas giant, in recent months.

Jupiter is two-and-a-half times the size of all the other planets in the Solar System combined and experts debate whether its cloud covering is hiding a solid core or whether the planet is entirely comprised of gases.

The latest images of Jupiter’s swirling cloud formation were processed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

While plenty of images of the planet’s north hemisphere exists, the new images show the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, which has been pictured less often.

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NASA’s Juno orbiter probe has revealed detailed images of the swirling gas clouds covering Jupiter. JunoCam captured close-up photos of Jupiter’s poles, as well as the shroud of swirling clouds that cover the gas giant.


While plenty of images of the planet’s north hemisphere exists, the new images show the southern hemisphere of Jupiter. The latest images of Jupiter’s swirling cloud formation was processed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory


The stunning close-up detail was captured by the camera on the spacecraft known as the JunoCam, specifically designed to take pictures of the planet’s polar regions

WHAT IS JUPITER’S GREAT RED SPOT?

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a giant oval of crimson-coloured clouds in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere that race counterclockwise around the oval’s perimeter.

The biggest storm in the solar system, it appears as a deep red orb surrounded by layers of pale yellow, orange and white.

Trapped between two jet streams, the Great Red Spot is an anticyclone swirling around a centre of high atmospheric pressure that makes it rotate in the opposite direction to hurricanes on Earth.


Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a giant oval of crimson-coloured clouds in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere that race counterclockwise around the oval’s perimeter

Winds inside the storm have been measured at several hundreds of miles per hour, with wind storms greater than any storm on Earth, Nasa astronomers have said. 

In the late 1800s it was estimated to be about 35,000 miles (about 56,000 km) in diameter – wide enough for four Earths to fit side by side.  

Measuring 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres) wide as of April 3, 2017, the Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth and is gradually shrinking over time.

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    The solar-powered spacecraft which left Earth eight years ago made history by entering into Jupiter’s orbit.

    Nasa’s Juno probe fired its main rocket engine at 4.18 am BST (11.18pm ET) in 2011, slowing itself down from a speed of 165,000 mph (265,000 kph) enough to drop into a sweeping orbit around the planet.

    With Juno on autopilot, the delicately choreographed move came without any help from ground controllers, so the spacecraft’s mission control erupted with cheering and applause when the orbit was confirmed at 4:53 am BST (11.53pm ET). 


    Nasa’s Juno probe fired its main rocket engine at 4.18 am BST (11.18pm ET) in 2011, slowing itself down from a speed of 165,000 mph (265,000 kph) enough to drop into a sweeping orbit around the planet.

    Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has long intrigued astronomers, with its gigantic swirling storms and hurricane force winds. 

    It was observed for the first time with certainty 150 years ago, shows up through the telescope owing to its reddish colour against the white, yellowish, ochre clouds contrasting with the rest of the planet.

    Despite the numerous studies conducted on the storm, its nature poses a huge challenge for planetary meteorologists. 

    Last year, researchers have revealed what really happens within the storm – and found its center is strangely calm.

    While winds reach 450mph (724kph) at its edge, in the center, they are just 25mph (40kph), they said.

    WHAT CAUSES JUPITER’S CHARACTERISTIC BANDS?

    Experts have studied recent evidence gathered from Nasa’s Juno spacecraft to reveal the reason why gases form bands on Jupiter.

    Clouds of ammonia at Jupiter’s outer atmosphere are carried along by jet streams to form Jupiter’s regimented coloured bands.

    Jupiter’s jet streams reach as deep as 1,800 miles (3,000 km) below Jupiter’s clouds, which are shades of white, red, orange, brown and yellow.

    The gas in the interior of Jupiter is magnetised, which researchers believe explains why the jet streams go as deep as they do but don’t go any deeper. 

    There are also no continents and mountains below Jupiter’s atmosphere to obstruct the path of the jet stream. 

    This makes the jet streams on Jupiter simpler than those on Earth and cause less turbulence in it’s upper atmosphere.

    The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by Agustín Sánchez-Lavega found a ‘rich diversity’ of clouds within the Great Red Spot. 

    ‘These phenomena are confined to a thin layer only 31 miles (50 km) thick, which represents the roof of the clouds of the spot, while inside, the spot probably goes down to a depth of a couple of hundred kilometres,’ the researchers said in November 2018. 

    It contains cumulus clouds of clustered storms produced by the condensation of ammonia vapour, narrow gravity waves similar to those that form on the Earth when the wind blows on mountain summits. 

    Yet calm reigns at its centre where the clouds move by rotating in the opposite direction at maximum speeds of only 15 miles/hr (25 km/hr), according to the team.

    Despite the numerous studies conducted on the storm, its nature poses a huge challenge for planetary meteorologists. 

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