Jason DavisAug 15, 2018

Here are some recent postcards from Jupiter

What's new out at Jupiter? We haven't looked in on NASA’s Juno spacecraft since (checks blog archive) May. Juno completed its 14th close flyby of Jupiter on July 15, and as of Tuesday morning, it was 8 million kilometers from Jupiter, gradually working its way back toward the planet following apojove.

In general Jupiter news, astronomers have found 12 new Jovian moons, while one of Juno's instruments saw what may be a new volcano on Io!

And, of course, there are some recent pretty pictures from JunoCam, brought to you by image processors from around the world.

Let's start with a nice wide shot from perijove 14:

Juno perijove 14 wide view
Juno perijove 14 wide view Jupiter as seen on perijove 14. NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Brian Swift / Seán Doran

Very nice! Let’s get closer for a natural color view:

Swirling storm
Swirling storm Juno spies a storm in Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt during perijove 14. Though similar in appearance, this is not the larger Great Red Spot. The image was taken on July 15 from a distance of 8,000 kilometers above the cloud tops. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Björn Jónsson

That swirly storm is not, in fact, the Great Red Spot, though it’s very similar in appearance. It’s a much smaller storm in the South Equatorial Belt. Juno was just 8,000 kilometers above the cloud tops at the time!

Here’s another swirly view:

Whirls and swirls
Whirls and swirls An image of Jupiter during Juno perijove 14, from a distance of about 12,000 kilometers. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Björn Jónsson

This shot was taken from about 12,000 kilometers above Jupiter, and like the image before that, it approximates what you’d see with your own eyes if you were an astronaut aboard the spacecraft.

One more natural color image:

Jovian close encounter
Jovian close encounter Jupiter as seen during Juno perijove 14, from a distance of just 3,800 kilometers. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Björn Jónsson

This image was taken from just 3,800 kilometers above the cloud tops—less than the distance between New York and Los Angeles! It reminds me of some of Cassini’s final images when it was diving through the rings. At such close ranges, the fine detail you see when viewing gas giants from afar gives way to a more homogenized appearance.

Speaking of detail, here’s a look at some incredible swirls and vortices, some of which have clouds that show vertical relief:

Swirls and vortices
Swirls and vortices An image of Jupiter during Juno perijove 14. NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Matt Brealey / Seán Doran

And to finish this postcard roundup, here’s a different version of the above image, zoomed and projected differently. It looks like a fancy coffee drink:

Jovian coffee
Jovian coffee A slice of Jupiter imaged by Juno during perijove 14. NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

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