The Juno spacecraft was at a distance of 5,300 kilometres from the tops of the gas giant’s clouds when the image was taken.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently captured the complex colours and structure of Jupiter’s surface. The striking image showed swirls of turquoise, milky white, deep ochre and dark blue covering the planet’s surface in a mesmerising manner.
In a press release, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said that the Juno probe snapped the picture on July 5 during its 43rd close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft was at a distance of 5,300 kilometres from the tops of the gas giant’s clouds when the image was taken.
“Citizen scientist Bjorn Jonsson created these two images using raw data from the JunoCam instrument aboard the spacecraft,” NASA said.
It further explained that the image on the left-hand side showed the view as it would appear to a human observer in Juno’s position. In the image on the right, Mr Jonsson digitally enhanced colour saturation and contract in order to allow the intricate structure of the planet’s atmosphere to come to the fore.
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“This clearly reveals some of the most intriguing aspects of Jupiter’s atmosphere, including colour variation that results from differing chemical composition, the three-dimensional nature of Jupiter’s swirling vortices, and the small, bright “pop-up” clouds that form in the higher parts of the atmosphere,” the US space agency added.
Juno was launched in 2011. It has been exploring the gas giant since 2016. Circling the planet in a highly elliptical orbit, the probe completes one lap every 43 days. Earlier this year, Juno reached its point of closest approach to Jupiter, getting just over 3,300 kilometres above the planet’s cloud tops.
The spacecraft was originally scheduled to retire in 2021, but now Juno will continue its work until at least 2025.