NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the most mesmerising images from Jupiter. The pictures are so good they have created a community of citizen scientists who enhance the orbiter’s raw images and make them into literal works of art. While the colourised images are always spectacular, this time, citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko has outdone himself and enhanced what could be the best Jupiter pic yet.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko
The above image was taken on 27 March 2017, at 5:06AM EDT (7:06PM AEST) as Juno performed its fifth Jovian flyby. The image was taken when the orbiter was soaring 12,700km above Jupiter’s cloud tops, peering into a particularly stormy region.
According to NASA, the icy blue streak toward the right of the image is one of Jupiter’s many “long-lived storms”, which the gas giant is notorious for. Besides its Great Red Spot, the planet’s storms are extremely chaotic — and over the next few months, the Juno team back here on Earth hopes to study the cause of these epic events.
The off-white, egg-shaped spot on the left is an interesting feature too, “where incoming small dark spots make a hairpin turn,” the space agency says.
Even with so many incredible photos, there’s still a ton we don’t understand about this massive, magnificent planet. Before its mission ends in February 2018, Juno will study Jupiter’s atmospheric composition as well as the planet’s magnetosphere. There’s so much waiting to be discovered under Jupiter’s thick clouds, and Juno will be sending us all the science and spectacular imagery it can until it dies. Everything — even spacecraft — dies, guys.