Earth is a miraculous being. We have lived on this planet for centuries and still haven’t learned of all its magnificent depths and crevices. Yet, beyond the mysteries of our own home, we have the beauty of the stars to consider, which inevitably leaves us wondering, what else is beyond this blanket of darkness and twinkling lights? While we have discovered much about our solar system and neighbouring planets, there is still plenty more to learn.
In 2011, Nasa launched a space probe called Juno which is currently orbiting Jupiter. Juno finally began its scientific investigation of the planet when it entered orbit on July 5, 2016. The mission aims to learn more about how the planet formed, its composition, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, and its mass distribution. It will also measure its deep winds, which have been noted to reach speeds of up to 618 kilometers per hour (384 mph), and its gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.
On July 10, Juno completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot during its sixth science orbit. “For generations people from all over the world and all walks of life have marveled over the Great Red Spot,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal.”
On Friday, September 1, the JunoCam collected more images of this magnificent gas giant from its seventh science orbit, and NASA put the raw images online. In the following photos you will see what seems to be a large storm cutting into the side of the planet, creating a rather lovely pattern, along with amazing closeups of the clouds, a shadow on Jupiter caused by one of its moons, and hurricanes making their way across the planet. As an additional treat, there is also a video stitching together images as Juno flew over Jupiter.
Juno’s missions is scheduled to end in July 2018 but the mission could be extended if all continues to go well.