New photographs from NASA's Juno spacecraft reveal Jupiter's genuine hues

A new image captured by NASA's Jupiter explorer Juno reveals colorful details in the planet's atmosphere. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson)

A stunning photograph taken by NASA's Juno Jupiter spacecraft shows features in the tumultuous atmosphere of the solar system's biggest planet in the same hues that a human viewer would perceive. Juno captured the photograph with its JunoCam instrument on July 5, 2022, during its 43rd close flyby of Jupiter. When the photograph was captured, the spacecraft was 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) from the tops of the gas giant's clouds, speeding by at 130,000 mph (209,000 kph).

Björn Jónsson, a citizen scientist, used Juno's raw data to generate two photos. The graphic on the left depicts the scene as seen by a human observer in Juno's location. Jónsson digitally improved color saturation and contrast in the image on the right, bringing forth the complex structure of the planet's atmosphere.

The enlarged image's color changes reflect variations in the chemical makeup of different sections of Jupiter's atmosphere and highlight the three-dimensional structure of the planet's violent storms swirling in its clouds. The colorful "pop-up" clouds in the upper atmosphere may also be seen. The photograph depicts a location at roughly 50 degrees north latitude.

Since 2016, Juno, which was launched in 2011, has been studying the gas giant. The probe circles the planet in a highly elliptical orbit every 43 days, making repeated dips close to the planet's spinning clouds. Juno approaches the gas giant's clouds at a distance of around 3,100 miles (5,000 km).

Juno, which was supposed to retire in 2021, will now work until at least 2025. Citizen scientists may study, interpret, and categorize JunoCam photos. The photographs are available through the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, which created the equipment, on the JunoCam image processing website.

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