Home World Image of the Day: Jupiterrise

Image of the Day: Jupiterrise

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This image of the sunlit part of Jupiter and its swirling atmosphere was created by a citizen scientist (Alex Mai) using data from Juno’s JunoCam instrument. JunoCam’s raw images are available at for the public to peruse and process into image products.

Jupiter, named for the king of ancient Roman gods, is the fifth planet from our sun and the largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter’s stripes and swirls are cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water. The atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, and its iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.

nasa-Jupiter-spot_12801

Jupiter is surrounded by more than 50 moons, with dozen more awaiting confirmation. Scientists are most interested in the Galilean satellites — the four largest moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610: Europa, Callisto, Ganymede and Io. Jupiter also has three rings, but they are very hard to see and not nearly as intricate as Saturn’s.

Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003.

Juno‘s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. It will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds of 618 kilometers per hour (384 mph).

The latest probe to visit Jupiter is Juno, which entered into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Future targets for exploration in the Jupiter system include the probable ice-covered liquid ocean of its moon Europa.

 

 

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