Recently, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully completed its 8th science flyby across Jupiter. Celebrating the achievement, NASA has released some breathtaking images of Jupiter’s swirling clouds taken by Juno spacecraft’s JunoCam. The images showed that Jupiter’s Southern hemisphere has swirling, curling sea of colorful clouds which look quite beautiful and mesmerizing. The turbulent atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere captured by Juno looked like it was painted by a cosmic watercolor artist. The new image is a part of the data collected by Juno on October 24, through its JunoCam instrument.
NASA said in a statement that the image was captured during Juno’s ninth close flyby (eighth science flyby) of Jupiter. The US space agency informed that the raw data from JunoCam instrument were uploaded to the JunoCam website and citizen scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran collected that data and then processed it to create this beautiful image of Jupiter. The image captures the intricate and complex currents that Juno revealed in Jupiter’s cloud tops.
During its closest approach towards Jupiter’s cloud tops, the spacecraft was 20,557 miles (33,115 kilometers) above the tops of the clouds at a latitude of minus 52.96 degrees. Juno makes its closest approach towards Jupiter once in every 53 days and that to be for a few hours. The spacecraft makes a close loop around the planet, crossing perpendicularly to Jupiter’s equator along the poles. Majority of each orbit is spent well away from the planet.
Actually, Junocam cannot take pictures of Jupiter at its will through the duration of flyby. So, citizen scientists vote for the best area that should be targeted to take image during each close approach. Every time during the scientific flyby of Juno across Jupiter, citizen scientists collect the raw data from JunoCam and process it in a creative way to bring out amazing scientific and artistic images.
Juno project manager Edward Hirst, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, had earlier said that Juno’s science instruments and its JunoCam, a visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops, were operating, and the new data are now being transmitted to Earth. NASA informed that the next close flyby of Juno is scheduled to take place on December 16, 2017.