NASA’s Juno Jupiter mission has completed its 43rd close flyby of the largest planet in our solar system. And, in the process, it has provided an incredible image of the surface. The image shows intriguing vortices or hurricane-like spiral wind patterns forming near Jupiter’s north pole. On July 5, this year, the Juno spacecraft flew close to Jupiter. It took the striking photograph with its JunoCam instrument.
While the storms appear beautiful in the image, they can be quite powerful and massive, reaching heights of 50 kilometers and spreading hundreds of miles across the globe. They also contain critical data about Jupiter’s atmosphere. Scientists can learn about the fluid dynamics and cloud chemistry that create Jupiter’s other atmospheric features by studying their formation.
Check out the image below, which NASA shared on Twitter:
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Scientists will examine the various shapes, colors, and sizes of the vortices observed on the planet. The difference in color and shape can also be seen in the formation of cyclones on Earth. Cyclones that spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, for example, differ in color and shape from anti-cyclones that do the opposite.
NASA has launched a citizen science project called Jovian Vortex Hunter, which allows people to locate and categorize vortices in images.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. It took five years to reach the planet and enter the 53-day polar orbit that stretches from above the planet’s cloud tops to the Jovian magnetosphere’s outer reaches.
During its first 35 orbits, Juno collected a wealth of data and captured breathtaking images of Jupiter and its satellites. Juno is now on an extended mission and will continue to investigate Jupiter until September 2025, or until it dies.