Space

This breathtaking close-up of Jupiter’s swirling skies looks like a painting

Since its arrival at Jupiter in 2016, NASA’s little space explorer Juno has been steadfastly circling the enigmatic gas giant, over and over again. Each close flyby (or perijove) from its highly elliptical orbit brings us new views of Jupiter’s swirly cloud cover, and we just can’t get enough.

If you can believe it, Juno has already done 18 laps of Jupiter, and raw photos from the most recent flyby started dropping in NASA’s public repository in mid-February. Luckily for us, anyone is welcome to take these dispatches and enhance them with image processing tools.

Many artists, designers, and citizen scientists have taken to this task with gusto. Just a few days ago, NASA highlighted one of the latest such contributions by JPL’s Kevin M. Gill. You can admire it in full below.

nasa jupiter northern hemisphere n6 jet stream(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

You’re looking at colour-enhanced clouds from Jupiter’s northern hemisphere. The dark circular shape on the left-hand side is a powerful atmospheric structure known as a jet stream (Jet N6, to be precise). Jupiter’s gassy surface is pretty much littered with these things, to depths of 3,000 kilometres (1,870 miles).

Juno snapped this pic at an altitude of nearly 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) on 12 February 2019. Gill took the raw image, cropped it and rotated it approximately 100 degrees to the right, along with enhancing the colours to reveal the stunning beauty of Jupiter’s eerie atmosphere.

We just can’t stop admiring it.

Read more about the spectacular work that goes into bringing Juno’s images to us from millions of miles away in our feature here.

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