Jupiter is among most beautiful planets of our solar system. The gas giant has a very turbulent atmosphere and boasts tornadoes that can engulf entire Earth. But, the largest planet of our solar system looks damn good when seen from a distance and it also managed to become the NASA’s image of the day.
Scientists at the US space agency NASA have chosen the pic of colorful swirling cloud belts in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere as the image of the day. The stunning image was captured by the JunoCam imager installed aboard the Juno spacecraft that is orbiting Jupiter in order to study its atmosphere.
Jupiter appears in this color-enhanced image as a tapestry of vibrant cloud bands and storms. The dark region in the far left is called the South Temperate Belt. Intersecting the belt is a ghost-like feature of slithering white clouds. This is the largest feature in Jupiter’s low latitudes that’s a cyclone (rotating with clockwise motion).
This image was taken on Dec. 16, 2017 at 10:12 PST (1:12 p.m. EST), as Juno performed its tenth close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 8,453 miles (13,604 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a latitude of 27.9 degrees south. The spatial scale in this image is 5.6 miles/pixel (9.1 kilometers/pixel).
Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager.
The Juno spacecraft took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Aug 5, 2011, and reached Jupiter after completing nearly five years long journey on July 5, 2016. Since then, the spacecraft has made several flybys of the gas giant to study its auroras and to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.
Juno’s name comes from Roman mythology. The mythical god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife — the goddess Juno — was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature.
JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.