A Whole New Jupiter: Amazing Images from NASA’s Juno Mission
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has beamed home the first-ever photos of Jupiter’s poles, and scientists can hardly believe their eyes.
Juno captured the images on Aug. 27, 2016, when the probe skimmed just 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the planet’s swirling clouds during the first of three dozen close flybys of the king of the solar system’s planets. The images show both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together.
“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement.
“It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms,” Bolton added. “There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to; this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”
He added: “Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole. There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our Solar System is truly unique.”