Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Bj�rn J�nsson's Voyager 1 Jupiter animation, new and improved

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

16-05-2011 11:32 CDT

Topics: Voyager 1 and 2, Jupiter

Late last year I posted an amazing video of Jupiter's moving clouds, an animation made from images that Voyager 1 took as it approached. Below is a new and improved version of that animation. The first one was based on 16 Voyager color photos; this one covers a much longer period of time, and includes 58 images.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Processed by Björn Jónsson

Jupiter's cloud motions as Voyager 1 approaches
This movie is based on 58 orange-green-blue color composites obtained on every Jovian rotation from January 6 to January 29, 1979. Over this period Voyager 1's distance from Jupiter dropped from 58 to 36 million km, so the resolution and sharpness of the frames increases from start to finish. The 58 frames were tweened, increasing the number of frames by a factor of 8 (that is, 7 synthetic frames are inserted between each real frame).

The description of this movie is basically the same as the earlier version: Every second in this movie corresponds to about 4 Jupiter days or about 40 Earth hours. This movie began as a 58-frame animation of Voyager 1 images of Jupiter. Each of the 58 images was composed by Björn Jónsson from three Voyager frames taken through orange, green, and blue filters, which he reprojected into a cylindrical map, aligned, and then projected back into the slightly squashed spherical shape of Jupiter. (This reprojection step is necessary because around two minutes elapsed between each of the component images, which, because of Jupiter's fast rotation, would result in color ghosting if they were simply overlaid.) Jónsson selected sets of images featuring the Great Red Spot near the center of Jupiter's disk, one per Jupiter day, and reprojected them to maintain a constant position for the Spot. By holding the GRS still he highlights the motions of the clouds that happen from Jupiter day to Jupiter day.

Jónsson took the 58-frame animation and "tweened" it, using software to compute seven frames to fill in the time between each of the original 58 images. The result is a smooth animation of the motion of Jupiter's clouds.

Jupiter may appear slightly "washed out." Jónsson has attempted to reconstruct Jupiter's color as it would actually appear to the human eye, without exaggerating the colors. However, it should be noted that the Voyager camera systems were not sensitive to light in red wavelengths (the longest wavelength they could detect is in a region we'd call "orange"). Since Jupiter is colorful in red wavelengths, attempting to produce "true color" images from Voyager data results in slightly less colorful views than we can see with modern CCDs or our own eyes.

Producing this video required an incredible amount of work. Björn writes: "Because I didn't have any information on the viewing geometry and camera pointing I had to 'reverse engineer' all of that information. I was unable to do it to perfect accuracy but I still think the resulting geometric parameters are fairly accurate. Another source of errors is that the images had to be corrected for geometric distortion and that correction probably isn't perfect, especially where Jupiter is close to the edge of a frame (or even partially outside the frame due to bad pointing). These errors manifest themselves as lots of features that appear to 'wobble' a bit and I'm pretty sure that motion is not a real feature. In fact this looks a bit like an earth-based telescopic video of Jupiter except that Jupiter appears very sharp.

"Some minor but spurious color variations from frame to frame may be apparent. This is because in many cases the source frames had data dropouts and I had to use partially synthetic color. In some cases Jupiter was partially outside the frame due to pointing errors and in one case the pointing was so bad that none of the three images (OGB) could be used. To keep the apparent frame rate constant everywhere I used Sqirlz Morph to generate a totally synthetic frame from the two adjacent frames where this happened. This worked remarkably well and I think it may be almost impossible to spot where I did this."

Fantastic work as usual, Björn!

See other posts from May 2011


Or read more blog entries about: Voyager 1 and 2, Jupiter


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!