Traveling above Jupiter at more than 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s $1 billion Juno probe took its ninth set of stunning flyby images on October 24, 2017. Published at Sci-Tech Universe on November 11, 2017.
Below are some fresh, close-up images of Jupiter, along with other incredible views captured from earlier perijoves, as the spacecraft’s high-speed flybys are called. In this most recent flyby, as with the previous eight, Juno started over Jupiter’s north pole. The spacecraft then swept within a few thousand miles of the gas giant, capturing stunning high-resolution views of its cloud tops [image 3].
At its closest approach to Jupiter during each flyby, the robot briefly becomes the fastest human-made object in the solar system, reaching speeds of around 130,000 miles per hour.
The spacecraft then swept within a few thousand miles of the gas giant, capturing stunning high-resolution views of its cloud tops.
Then Juno flew back out into deep space, passing over Jupiter’s south pole on its exit [image 4]. Churning storms at the poles constantly change their appearance.
Researchers upload the raw data sent by the probe to the mission’s website where the initially drab, mostly gray image data is processed into true-to-life color photos with many snapshots taking on an artistic quality [image 5]. Others dazzle with their detail of the planet’s thick cloud bands and powerful storms [image 8].
Some of the tempests are large enough to swallow planet Earth – or at least a good chunk of it. The planet’s atmosphere is a turbulent mess of hydrogen and helium gases. There are also traces of molecules like ammonia, methane, sulfur, and water, which give the clouds different colors and properties. The mixture sometimes creates features that look like faces [image 12]. Other times, shining-white clouds fill up most of a band.
Many cloud bands have features called chevrons. These atmospheric disturbances blow at several hundreds of miles per hour and sometimes zig-zag through a band, or punch through into others.
In this older view of Jupiter [image 14], from Juno’s eighth perijove, two cloud bands battle for dominance – one of which contains a swirling storm many times larger than a hurricane on Earth.
The spacecraft will continue to document Jupiter for as long as NASA can keep it going. But not forever.
Image 1 unknown
Image 3 NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major
Images 2 and 4-16 NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran