Closest hires pictures of Jupiter beamed back from Juno

The closest hires pictures of Jupiter have been beamed back over the last week, from Juno, which is currently orbiting our solar systems largest planet, Jupiter.

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What is Juno?

​Juno, the goddess, was Jupiter the god's wife. As this spacecraft's mission was to travel to Jupiter, it was given the name Juno.

Juno, the spacecraft sent by Nasa recently completed its first fly-by of our solar systems largest planet, Jupiter.

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Travelling at 130,000 miles per hour, and coming within 2,600 miles of the planet, Juno's instruments and camera were turned on to capture this historic event.

The images beamed back show weather and storms that are unlike anything we've ever seen anywhere else in our solar system.

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Northern Polar Picture

Jupiter North Pole 1 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

The above picture of Jupiters north polar region, was taken on August 27th 2016 by Juno. It completed its first flyby of Jupiter on the same date, just 2,500 miles (or 4,200 km) above the swirling clouds of Jupiter.

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SoutherN Polar Picture

Jupiter South Pole 2 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

This is a picture of Jupter's south pole, never before seen from this perspective. While we're used to seeing bands of clouds and weather systems around Jupiter's centre, these pictures show huge rotating storms, both clockwose and anti-clockwise, not too dis-similar to huge versions of the hurricanes we see here on Earth.

Jupiter's Aurora

Jupiter Aurora 3 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-ASI-INAF-JIRAM

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

For my friends in Aurora Research, this picture may be of special interest. Because of the position of the Earth relative to Jupiter's south pole, the southern aurora is something which hasn't been observed until now.

The infra-red picture above shows it in spectacular form and was put together from three, which were taken just a few minutes apart. The aurora on Jupiter is formed by hydrogen ions in the polar regions of the planet.

 
 

One Jupiter Day of Photos

Jupiter 4 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

The 10 images above were taken around 10 hours apart from each other (roughly one Jupiter day) - so you can always see the Great Red Spot (or storm) in much the same place.

What's fascinating about these images are in some, you can see some small black spots. These are actually shadows of Jupiter's Galilean moons!

 
 

Jupiter's Equator to South Pole

Jupiter 5 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

This picture was taken around 23,600 miles (or 38,000 km) above the clouds, and shows the area between the equator and the south pole of the huge gas giant.

You can clearly see the change in smooth clouds bands close to the equator, against the far more chaotic storms closer to the polar regions.

 
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Huge Weather Systems at Jupiter's Poles

Jupiter Polar Clouds 6 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

The spacecraft Juno, was just under 50,000 miles (or 80,000 km) above the clouds at Jupiter's polar region when ig captured this image of massive weather systems and storms the likes of which we have never seen anywhere else in the solar system.

What has LEGO got to do with Jupiter?

Lego Spacemen aboard Juno

Credit: NASA

The Juno spacecraft has three small passengers traveling with it. The models represent Jupiter, the god, Jupiter's wife, the goddess Juno (from which the spacecraft took its name) and one of the Italian astronomer Galileo (you can read more about Jupiter and Galileo's relationship with it in this post).

The reason for the LEGO passengers is to help encourage interest from budding astronomers and engineers in the hope that we can get more children into studying the subjects such as technology and science. Unfortunately for the passengers, they will, along with Juno, crash into Jupiter in February 2018 when the mission comes to an end.

This is to stop the likelihood of Juno potentially crashing into one of Jupiter's moons, which at this point in time, may hold some form of life, or be habitable for life in the future.

 
 
 

The Great Red Spot

Jupiter FlyBy 8 - NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI?MSSS

NASA'S Juno spacecraft made its closest approach yet to Jupiter on Saturday during the main phase of its mission. You can clearly see the Great Red Spot, which is a storm system which is thousands of years old. And you thought the Scottish weather was bad?

 

What's next for Juno?

Juno will continue to "look" at Jupiter, measuring the many layers of clouds and gas, what they are made of, and the magnetic field of the planet. This, and many other probes Juno will carry out, will help scientists determine if Jupiter has a solid core (as Earth does) or if it is purely made of gas. THey also hope to learn more about the Great Red Spot that has been raging on the planet for thousands of years.

Wrapping it all up...

Juno will make another 35 flyby's of Jupiter, before it finally ends it's mission in February 2018, where the three LEGO astronauts will meet their fate when the spacecraft self-destructs by flying into Jupiter's atmosphere.

All the best,

Mark​

 
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