Juno captures monster 50-kilometer-tall storms churning on Jupiter


Hovering in orbit around Jupiter, the Juno spacecraft remains our eyes and ears in the mysteriously colourful world that is chaotic when looked at closely. The spacecraft has, during its latest flyby around the planet, captured unique developments churning on the surface that are big and monstrous in nature.

The Juno spacecraft during its 43rd close encounter with Jupiter captured massive storms brewing near the planet’s north pole. The probe, using its JunoCam instrument, snapped vortices hurricane-like spiral wind patterns – churning on the surface that is bigger than what we see on Earth.

Nasa said that the images beamed back by the spacecraft show storms that could be over 50 kilometers in height and hundreds of kilometers across. Scientists are now looking to understand how these storms take place on the planet, which is a riot of colours when seen from land and space-based telescopes on Earth.

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“Figuring out how they form is key to understanding Jupiter’s atmosphere, as well as the fluid dynamics and cloud chemistry that create the planet’s other atmospheric features,” Nasa said in a statement as it released the latest images from the biggest planet in the solar system.

Juno mission completed its 43rd close flyby of Jupiter on July 5, 2022 and saw this view. (Photo: Nasa)

Scientists are interested in understanding the varying shapes of these vortices, their sizes, and colours. They have been baffled at the cyclones, which spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, and anti-cyclones, which rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere, and exhibit very different colours and shapes.

Nasa has called for citizen scientists to spot and help in categorising these storms and other atmospheric phenomena visible in JunoCam photos of Jupiter. “This process does not require specialized training or software, and can be done by anyone, anywhere, with a cellphone or laptop,” the American space agency has said.

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While the Juno cam continues to go around the planet and its moons, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which recently began science operations also looked at the planets during its test phase.

Nasa released the images taken during the commissioning of the observatory, where JWST saw distinct bands that encircle the planet, as well as the Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to swallow the Earth. The iconic spot appears white in this image because of the way Webb’s infrared image was processed.

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