Sorry astronomers: the show’s over. Jupiter is just a big ball of lava, floating in space, waiting to consume all other celestial bodies in its magmatic embrace. At least, that’s the impression I’m getting from this clip of the gas giant, straight from NASA. Oh well, it was nice knowing you all.
Don’t panic — Jupiter isn’t actually made of lava. What you’re seeing is just a visualisation, produced using data from NASA’s Juno mission. Thanks to the probe’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), NASA was able to capture atmospheric temperature readings and transform them into the video above.
Specifically, this is a fly-over of the planet’s north pole, where nine cyclones — a centre one surrounded by eight others — are clearly visible.
As to what the colours mean:
…the yellow areas are warmer (or deeper into Jupiter’s atmosphere) and the dark areas are colder (or higher up in Jupiter’s atmosphere). In this picture the highest “brightness temperature” is around 260K (about -13°C) and the lowest around 190K (about -83°C).
The “brightness temperature” is a measurement of the radiance, at 5µm, travelling upward from the top of the atmosphere towards Juno, expressed in units of temperature.
So, even if this was lava, it’d be very, very cold. Still doesn’t make it a great place for a holiday.
Just look at this incredibly detailed photo of Jupiter's clouds as captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft.Read more