NASA’s Juno spacecraft sends back new image of Jupiter

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured a stunning new look at Jupiter and two of its largest moons.

Jupiter is known to have dozens of moons orbiting in its vicinity – but, in the new image, the satellites Io and Europa take the spotlight beside the gas giant planet.

Europa is thought to be a key target in the search for microbial alien life, as it’s home to a subsurface ocean that may have the right conditions for habitability.

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Jupiter is known to have dozens of moons orbiting in its vicinity ¿ but, in the new image, the satellites Io and Europa take the spotlight beside the gas giant planet. Io can be seen on the right side of the image, dwarfed by Jupiter, while Europa is situated on the left

Jupiter is known to have dozens of moons orbiting in its vicinity ¿ but, in the new image, the satellites Io and Europa take the spotlight beside the gas giant planet. Io can be seen on the right side of the image, dwarfed by Jupiter, while Europa is situated on the left

Jupiter is known to have dozens of moons orbiting in its vicinity – but, in the new image, the satellites Io and Europa take the spotlight beside the gas giant planet. Io can be seen on the right side of the image, dwarfed by Jupiter, while Europa is situated on the left

JUPITER’S ICY MOON 

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon.

Europa orbits Jupiter every 3.5 days and is tidally locked – just like Earth’s Moon – so that the same side of Europa faces Jupiter at all times.

It is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water, like Earth.

Unlike on Earth, however, this ocean is deep enough to cover the whole surface of Europa, and being far from the sun, the ocean surface is globally frozen over.

Experts believe Europa’s hidden ocean, warmed by powerful tidal forces caused by Jupiter’s gravity, may have conditions favourable for life.

The new view was captured during Juno’s eighth flyby, from about 17,098 miles (27,516 kilometers) from Jupiter’s cloud tops.

Dwarfed by the massive planet, the Galilean moon Io can be seen at an altitude of 298,880 miles (481,000 kilometers).

Further away, in the left size of the image, Europa can be seen lurking at an altitude of 453,601 miles (730,000 kilometers).

Juno captured the stunning new view on Sept 1 at 3:14 p.m. PDT (6:14 p.m. EDT), using the JunoCam imager.

Then, citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko processed the raw data.

In September, the space agency shared another breathtaking image captured by the Juno spacecraft, revealing a look at the swirling clouds over Jupiter.

Juno spotted the phenomenon from roughly 4,707 miles (7,576 kilometers) away, offering further evidence on the planet’s turbulent nature.

According to NASA, the photo shows a close-up look at two points of interest, known as ‘Whale’s Tail’ and ‘Dan’s Spot.’ 

NASA has said goodbye to its Cassini spacecraft, bringing its long-running Saturn mission to an end ¿but, not far from the ringed planet, the space agency is observing another gas giant in our solar system. A stunning new image captured by the Juno spacecraft has revealed a look at the swirling clouds over Jupiter, offering further evidence on its turbulent nature

NASA has said goodbye to its Cassini spacecraft, bringing its long-running Saturn mission to an end ¿but, not far from the ringed planet, the space agency is observing another gas giant in our solar system. A stunning new image captured by the Juno spacecraft has revealed a look at the swirling clouds over Jupiter, offering further evidence on its turbulent nature

NASA has said goodbye to its Cassini spacecraft, bringing its long-running Saturn mission to an end –but, not far from the ringed planet, the space agency is observing another gas giant in our solar system. A stunning new image captured by the Juno spacecraft has revealed a look at the swirling clouds over Jupiter, offering further evidence on its turbulent nature

After the raw photos came in, the view was processed by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt, revealing the stunning colors and patterns swirling about the gas giant. 

The photo is just one of several captured on Sept 1, showing various points of interest in incredible detail.

A four-photo series released by NASA shows a head-on look at the planet alongside a view of Jupiter tilted upward, revealing the planet’s stormy south pole. 

The first photo offers a look at the center of the planet, even showing a bit of the north and the aurorae on the north pole.

According to NASA, the new photo shows a close-up look at two points of interest, known as ¿Whale¿s Tail¿ and ¿Dan¿s Spot.¿ Juno captured the image during its eight flyby of Jupiter on September 1 at 2:58 p.m, using its JunoCam imager

According to NASA, the new photo shows a close-up look at two points of interest, known as ¿Whale¿s Tail¿ and ¿Dan¿s Spot.¿ Juno captured the image during its eight flyby of Jupiter on September 1 at 2:58 p.m, using its JunoCam imager

According to NASA, the new photo shows a close-up look at two points of interest, known as ‘Whale’s Tail’ and ‘Dan’s Spot.’ Juno captured the image during its eight flyby of Jupiter on September 1 at 2:58 p.m, using its JunoCam imager

WHAT IS THE GREAT RED SPOT? 

The so-called ‘Great Red Spot’ is a violent storm, which in the late
1800s was estimated to be about 25,000 miles (about 40,000 km) in diameter – wide enough for three Earths to fit side by side. 

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

Winds inside the storm have been measured at several hundreds of miles per hour, Nasa astronomers said. 

The second shows the wide dark belts that contrast with lighter-hued zones, which are arranged at different latitudes and called ‘tropical regions.’

The interactions of these conflicting cloud and circulation patterns cause turbulence, storms, and wind speeds of 100 m/s.

In the third photo, more of the cyclones that live on the planet’s south side come into view.

By the last, Jupiter’s south pole starts to show. 

The spacecraft whizzed past the gas giant for a total of eight minutes between 6:03 PM and 6:11 PM EDT.

At the times the images were taken, Juno’s altitude ranged from 7,545 to 14,234 miles (12,143 to 22,908 kilometers) from the tops of the planet’s clouds. 

It flew at latitudes ranging from -28.5406 to -44.4912 degrees.

NASA's Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of Jupiter and captured stunning images of the planet. The photos - captured on September 1 - show various points of interest of the giant gas planet in incredible detail. The four-photo series begins with a head-on look at the planet before showing Jupiter tilted upward, revealing the planet's stormy south pole

NASA's Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of Jupiter and captured stunning images of the planet. The photos - captured on September 1 - show various points of interest of the giant gas planet in incredible detail. The four-photo series begins with a head-on look at the planet before showing Jupiter tilted upward, revealing the planet's stormy south pole

NASA’s Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of Jupiter and captured stunning images of the planet. The photos – captured on September 1 – show various points of interest of the giant gas planet in incredible detail. The four-photo series begins with a head-on look at the planet before showing Jupiter tilted upward, revealing the planet’s stormy south pole

The striking vista features the planet's famed Great Red Spot fading from from view while the dynamic bands of the southern region come into focus. It was captured using data taken with the JunoCam on July 10, as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter

The striking vista features the planet's famed Great Red Spot fading from from view while the dynamic bands of the southern region come into focus. It was captured using data taken with the JunoCam on July 10, as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter

The striking vista features the planet’s famed Great Red Spot fading from from view while the dynamic bands of the southern region come into focus. It was captured using data taken with the JunoCam on July 10, as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. It was taken on July 10, 2017 at 6:42 p.m. PDT (9:42 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter, and shows the North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1, the third largest anticyclonic oval on the planet which is typically around 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) long

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. It was taken on July 10, 2017 at 6:42 p.m. PDT (9:42 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter, and shows the North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1, the third largest anticyclonic oval on the planet which is typically around 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) long

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. It was taken on July 10, 2017 at 6:42 p.m. PDT (9:42 p.m. EDT), as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter, and shows the North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1, the third largest anticyclonic oval on the planet which is typically around 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) long

Last month, a stunning new image of Jupiter captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft offered a new perspective on the gas giant, with a view that appears to show the planet flipped on its side.

The striking vista features the planet’s famed Great Red Spot fading from from view, while the dynamic bands of the southern region come into focus.

It was captured using data taken with the JunoCam on July 10, as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter. 

When image was taken, the spacecraft was 10,274 miles from the tops of the clouds of the planet, at a latitude of -36.9 degrees. 

HOW JUNO SNAPS A STORM 1.8 BILLION MILES AWAY

Juno reached Jupiter last year after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth

Juno reached Jupiter last year after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth

Juno reached Jupiter last year after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth

The Juno probe reached Jupiter last year after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth.

Following a successful braking manoe
uvre, it has now entered into a long polar orbit flying to within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of the planet’s swirling cloud tops. 

The probe will skim to within just 4,200 km of the planet’s clouds once a fortnight – too close to provide global coverage in a single image.

No previous spacecraft has orbited so close to Jupiter, although two others have been sent plunging to their destruction through its atmosphere. 

Juno’s main camera, JunoCam, captured images of the Great Red Spot, and will send them back to Earth by July 14, according to Scott Bolton, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute and the Juno mission’s leader.

Mr Bolton said: ‘Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special.’

But taking images of the Great Red Spot isn’t as simple as pointing and shooting. 

To capture the storm in detail, Juno must fly close to the storm – around 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Giant Red Spot clouds.

Juno also flies at staggering speeds of 34 miles/second making taking steady photos a challenge.    

‘North is to the left of the image, and south is on the right,’ NASA explains.

The astonishing photo was created by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran – JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process.

While many of Juno’s images have focused on the planet’s mysterious giant red spot, its little brother was also recently revealed in incredible detail by the probe.

Other recent images show the dynamic storm at the southern edge of Jupiter’s northern polar region.

Officially known as the North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1 (NN-LRS-1); it has been tracked at least since 1993, and may be older still, according to NASA. 

A stunning new image of Jupiter¿s tumultuous ¿Great Red Spot¿ has revealed what it might be like to glimpse the biggest storm in our solar system up close. The image shows a natural colour rendition of the massive storm

A stunning new image of Jupiter¿s tumultuous ¿Great Red Spot¿ has revealed what it might be like to glimpse the biggest storm in our solar system up close. The image shows a natural colour rendition of the massive storm

A stunning new image of Jupiter’s tumultuous ‘Great Red Spot’ has revealed what it might be like to glimpse the biggest storm in our solar system up close. The image shows a natural colour rendition of the massive storm

This is an early processed version of an image created by Gerald Eichstädt, using NASA's raw data. It gives an unprecedented glimpse into the gigantic red spot of Jupiter

This is an early processed version of an image created by Gerald Eichstädt, using NASA's raw data. It gives an unprecedented glimpse into the gigantic red spot of Jupiter

This is an early processed version of an image created by Gerald Eichstädt, using NASA’s raw data. It gives an unprecedented glimpse into the gigantic red spot of Jupiter

The long-lived anticyclonic oval is the third largest anticyclonic oval on the planet, typically around 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) long. 

The color varies between red and off-white (as it is now), but this JunoCam image shows that it still has a pale reddish core within the radius of maximum wind speeds.

An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon where winds around the storm flow in the direction opposite to that of the flow around a region of low pressure.  

The image has been rotated so that the top of the image is actually the equatorial regions while the bottom of the image is of the northern polar regions of the planet.

Although the storm is huge, it is tiny compared to its ‘big brother’, the so-called ‘Great Red Spot’.

Another of Jason Major’s processed images, showing the cloud detail inside the gigantic storm (right)

This violent storm, which in the late 1800s was estimated to be about 25,000 miles (about 40,000 km) in diameter – wide enough for three Earths to fit side by side.

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

On July 4, Juno logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit, and has chalked up about 71 million miles (114.5 million kilometers) in orbit around the giant planet.

‘The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the Nasa-Juno team,’ said Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

‘Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined.’