NASA’s Juno spacecraft has beamed back an incredible image of a mysterious dark vortex on gas giant Jupiter’s surface.
US space agency NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured a stunning image of Jupiter, complete with an “intensely dark vortex” swirling across its volatile surface. Juno took the iconic image during its 20th flyby of the planet on Wednesday, May 29, when the NASA spacecraft was approximately 9,200 miles from the planet. Juno, which arrived at Jupiter in 2016, continues to beam back spectacular photographs of the planet’s tempestuous atmosphere.
NASA released this digitally-enhanced image of the vortex spinning in a jet stream.
The maelstrom is surrounded by illuminated, high-altitude clouds that have “puffed up into the sunlight”, NASA said in a statement.
NASA said: “Our Juno spacecraft captured this view of an area within a Jovian jet stream showing a vortex that has an intensely dark centre. “
NASA scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran created the image using data from Juno’s JunoCam imager, and dubbed it “Jupiter’s Abyss”.
NASA Juno probe: An “intensely dark vortex” has been captured on gas giant Jupiter (Image: NASA)
The photograph was taken when Juno was about 9,200 miles (14,800 km) over Jupiter at approximately 52 degrees north latitude.
NASA space probe Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, having undertaken a five-year cruise to the planet.
No previous spacecraft has orbited so close to Jupiter, although NASA has sent two others to plunge to their destruction through the gas giant’s atmosphere.
To complete its risky mission Juno survived a circuit-frying radiation storm generated by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.
Juno is now more than halfway through its extended mission to study the atmosphere and deep interior of the largest planet in the solar system.
NASA announced in a statement: “Using NASA’s eyes on the solar system and simulated data from the Juno flight team you can ride onboard the Juno spacecraft in real-time at any moment during the entire mission.”
Last May, for the first time in history, humans have detected on Jupiter a changing magnetic field on a planet other than our Earth.
This revelation will help NASA researchers better understand how planets’ magnetic field alters over time.
NASA Juno probe: The vortex is seen spinning in Jupiter’s jet stream (Image: NASA)
NASA Juno probe: The maelstrom is surrounded by illuminated, high-altitude clouds (Image: NASA)
The scientists discovered changes in Jupiter’s magnetic field when they compared the latest data with data from earlier NASA missions.
NASA wore in an Instagram post: “A beautiful abyss. This view of an area within a Jovian jet stream includes a vortex with an intensely dark centre.
“Nearby, other features display bright, high altitude clouds that have puffed up into the sunlight.
“NASA’s Juno took this colour-enhanced image on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science flyby of Jupiter.
Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran created this image using data from the JunoCam imager.”