Science

New Juno images show mesmerizing storms raging at Jupiter’s north pole

Powerful storms around Jupiter’s north pole swirl in stunning new images taken by NASA’s Juno probe during its close approach to the giant planet on July 5.

The storms reach depths of more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) in Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere and are hundreds of miles wide, NASA said in a statement. (will open in a new tab). Scientists study these storms to understand what drives their formation and gives them their striking and unique features.

Past observations of Jupiter have shown that these cyclones vary in color depending on the direction in which they are rotating as well as their location. For example, storms that rotate counterclockwise in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere and those that rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere have completely different shapes and colors compared to those that rotate clockwise in the north and counterclockwise in the south. .

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Juno, launched in 2011 and reaching the gas giant five years later, took the images during its 43rd flyby of Jupiter on July 5, NASA said in a statement. The probe revolves around Jupiter in a highly elliptical orbit, making one circle in 43 days. Juno’s closest approach is about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) to Jupiter’s cloud tops. This particular image was taken while the probe was about 15,600 miles (25,100 kilometers) from the planet.

The Juno mission, originally scheduled to end in 2021, was extended last year until at least 2025. For the remainder of its lifetime, the probe will continue to focus on Jupiter’s fascinating atmosphere, as well as exploring the planet’s enigmatic moons of Ganymede, Europa and Io. , some of which may contain microbial life.

Powerful storms around Jupiter’s north pole captured by NASA’s Juno mission during a recent flyby. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Brian Swift)

Meanwhile, NASA is asking space enthusiasts and citizen scientists to help classify JunoCam images of storms and other atmospheric events as part of the Jovian Vortex Hunter program. (will open in a new tab) project. Anyone with access to a mobile phone or laptop can contribute to the analysis. So far, over 2,400 volunteers have classified over 375,000 images through the project.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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