NASA shared its new discoveries about Jupiter courtesy of the Juno mission. As Juno approached Jupiter, it captured beautiful photos of the planet that haven’t been seen before.
In a single photo that combined JunoCam’s photos of Jupiter, we can see just how magnificent and unpredictable Jupiter can be.
Juno’s Close Approach to Jupiter
Along with new data comes a striking new photo of Jupiter, this time showing the sequence of Juno’s approach to Jupiter. The color-enhanced photos of Jupiter that were captured by JunoCam show just how quickly the image of Jupiter changes as Juno passes by the planet.
The first photo on the left shows the entire half of Jupiter with the north pole at the approximate center of the image. By the third and fourth photo of the image, the polar region of the planet has rotated away, while wavy clouds are slowly coming into view at the planet’s northern mid-latitude. The fifth photo shows the clouds clearly.
The seventh and eight photos in the sequence, shot only minutes apart, were taken just before Juno was at its closest point to the planet just by the equator, and shows how quickly the views of Jupiter change.
Jupiter’s “south tropical zone” is seen in the ninth, tenth and eleventh photos, while the white ovals aptly nicknamed Jupiter’s “string of pearls” are showcased in the twelfth and thirteenth photos. Jupiter’s south pole is shown at the very last photo.
These images were taken during Juno’s close flyby of Jupiter as it speeds through the clouds of the planet, passing the north and south poles in a matter of two hours.
First Science Results From Juno
Though researchers were ready to be surprised by the data gathered from the Juno mission, the data that they received from the spacecraft proves just how little we really knew about the giant planet. Even if some of the striking information gathered in the first flyby seems to be answering some questions about Jupiter, it looks as though it garnered even more questions than answered them.
For instance, it was already surmised that Jupiter had the strongest magnetic field among the planets in our solar system, but Juno’s magnetometer investigation shows that Jupiter’s magnetic field is much stronger at 7.766 Gauss, which is 10 times stronger than initially thought. Further, JunoCam also captured images of clustered, massive earth-sized storms on both of the planet’s poles, and scientists aren’t clear as to whether this is a permanent occurrence on the planet’s poles or whether they eventually disappear over time.
Though changes have been made to the mission since it arrived on the planet in July 2016, Juno continues to send back marvelous photos and significant data that will help scientists uncover many of the planet’s mysteries.