New Up-Close Image Of Jupiter Is So Hypnotic It Hurts

NASA's Juno spacecraft has consistently been coming through with the best close-up images of Jupiter we've ever seen. But a newly released, enhanced-colour image of a large dark spot might be the most ethereal of all — its swirling, colourful clouds make it seem like a Jovian Van Gogh.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko

This glorious image was captured with JunoCam on February 2 at 8:13AM EST, when the Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft was 14,500km above the gas giant's cloud tops. According to NASA, the target — a storm aptly named "Dark Spot" — was publicly voted upon by JunoCam's online community of space enthusiasts and amateur astronomers. Citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko colourised the image, bringing close attention to the mesmerising clouds that look almost marbleised. The raw images — which are still spectacular — are all available on the JunoCam website.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko

While not much is known about this dark storm yet, it's probably pretty intense. Jupiter is known for its epically violent, constantly-shifting storms; weather patterns that can become thousands of kilometres in diameter and rage for decades. Exactly what internal processes drive these storms is something the Juno mission team hopes to discover in the months ahead.

Earlier today, Juno completed its fifth close flyby since reaching Jupiter on 4 July 2016. The details of the event are expected to be published in the coming day and weeks, along with, hopefully, more photos. As evidenced by this image, Jupiter's chaotic storms make for one hell of a gorgeous show.


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