Jupiter is a very stormy, turbulent, violent planet. The planet completes a day (or one complete rotation) within roughly 10 hours, which creates massive winds, producing these swirls, and violent storms. The fast rotation coupled with the fact that the planet is nothing but gas greatly multiplies the Coriolis effect. Earth too has a Coriolis effect, this creates the characteristic hurricane shapes and also contributes to the fact that storms will spin the opposite direction in different hemispheres. Luckily, our rotation is slower – our storms are less frequent and less violent than they would be if our days were shorter.
The above images come from the recent Juno mission by NASA.
Everyone is familiar with Jupiter’s great red spot, but did you know Jupiter also has a series of smaller white storms called pearls? Currently there are 8, but anywhere between 6-9 of them have been witnessed over the last three decades. Pretty cool, right?
The Galilean moons are the four largest moons of Jupiter — Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They were first seen by Galileo Galilei in January 1610, and recognized by him as satellites of Jupiter in March 1610. They are the first objects found to orbit another planet. Their names derive from the lovers of Zeus.
They are the first objects found to orbit another planet. Their names derive from the lovers of Zeus. They are among the largest objects in the Solar System with the exception of the Sun and the eight planets, with a radius larger than any of the dwarf planets.
Io is the fourth largest moon in the Solar System.
With over 400 active volcanos, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System. Its surface is dotted with more than 100 mountains, some of which are taller than Earth’s Mount Everest. Unlike most satellites in the outer Solar System (which have a thick coating of ice), Io is primarily composed of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron or iron sulfide core. Although not proven, recent data from the Galileo orbiter indicate that Io might have its own magnetic field.
Europa the second of the four Galilean moons, is the second closest to Jupiter and the smallest at 3121.6 kilometers in diameter, which is slightly smaller than the Moon. The name comes from a mythical Phoenician noblewoman, Europa, who was courted by Zeus and became the queen of Crete, though the name did not become widely used until the mid-20th century.
It has a smooth and bright surface, with a layer of water surrounding the mantle of the planet, thought to be 100 kilometers thick. The smooth surface includes a layer of ice, while the bottom of the ice is theorized to be liquid water. The apparent youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath it, which could conceivably serve as an abode for extraterrestrial life.
Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System, and is even bigger than the planet Mercury. It is the only satellite in the Solar System known to possess a magnetosphere, likely created through convection within the liquid iron core.
Callisto is the fourth and last Galilean moon, and is the second largest of the four, and at 4820.6 kilometers in diameter, it is the third largest moon in the Solar System, and barely smaller than Mercury, though only a third of the latter’s mass. It is named after the Greek mythological nymph Callisto, a lover of Zeus who was a daughter of the Arkadian King Lykaon and a hunting companion of the goddess Artemis. It is one of the most heavily cratered satellites in the Solar System, and one major feature is a basin around 3000 km wide called Valhalla.
Our Juno mission has been exploring Jupiter since July 2016 with a special passenger on board: JunoCam, an instrument designed to take spectacular close-up color images of the largest planet in our solar system. From the raw images, citizen scientists have processed a range of beautiful photographs that highlight Jupiter’s features, even turning them into works of art. Below, 10 stunning images JunoCam has given us over the past year.
1. Jovian tempest.
This color-enhanced image of a massive, raging storm in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere was captured by our Juno spacecraft during its ninth close flyby on Oct. 24, 2017. The storm is rotating counter-clockwise with a wide range of cloud altitudes, and the darker clouds are expected to be deeper in the atmosphere than the brightest clouds.
2. A southern stunner.
Jupiter’s southern hemisphere shows off in beautiful detail in this image taken on Oct. 24, 2017. The color-enhanced view captures one of the white ovals in the “String of Pearls,” one of eight massive rotating storms at 40 degrees south latitude on the gas giant planet.
3. Dreaming in color.
Artist Mik Petter created this unique digital piece using data from the JunoCam. The art form, known as fractals, uses mathematical formulas to create an infinite variety of form, detail, color and light. The original JunoCam image was taken on July 10, 2017.
4. Jovian moon shadow.
Jupiter’s moon Amalthea casts a shadow on the gas giant planet in this image taken on Sept. 1, 2017. The elongated shape of the shadow is a result of both the location of the moon with relation to Jupiter in this image as well as the irregular shape of the moon itself.
5. 95 minutes over Jupiter.
Once every 53 days, Juno swings close to Jupiter, speeding over its clouds. In about two hours, the spacecraft travels from a perch over Jupiter’s north pole through its closest approach (perijove), then passes over the south pole on its way back out. This sequence shows 11 color-enhanced images from Perijove 8 (Sept. 1, 2017) with the south pole on the left (11th image in the sequence) and the north pole on the right (first image in the sequence).
6. Soaring high.
This striking image of Jupiter was taken on Sept. 1, 2017 as Juno performed its eighth flyby. The spacecraft was 4,707 miles (7,576 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a latitude of about -17.4 degrees. Noteworthy: “Whale’s Tail” and “Dan’s Spot.”
7. In true color.
This true-color image offers a natural color rendition of what the Great Red Spot and surrounding areas would look like to human eyes from Juno’s position. The image was taken on July 10, 2017 as the Juno spacecraft performed its seventh close flyby of Jupiter.
8. The ‘face’ of Jupiter.
JunoCam images aren’t just for art and science—sometimes they’re created for a good chuckle. This image, processed by citizen scientist Jason Major, is titled “Jovey McJupiterface.” By rotating the image 180 degrees and orienting it from south up, two white oval storms turn into eyeballs, and the “face” of Jupiter is revealed. The original image was taken by the Juno spacecraft on May 19, 2017.
9. Bands of clouds.
This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s bands of light and dark clouds was created by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran. Three of the white oval storms known as the “String of Pearls” are visible near the top of the image. Each of the alternating light and dark atmospheric bands in this image is wider than Earth, and each rages around Jupiter at hundreds of miles (kilometers) per hour. The lighter areas are regions where gas is rising, and the darker bands are regions where gas is sinking. Juno captured the image on May 19, 2017.
10. The edge.
This enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter seems to reveal a Jovian “galaxy” of swirling storms. Juno captured this image on Feb. 2, 2017 and citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko enhanced the color to bring out the rich detail in the storm and surrounding clouds. Just south of the dark storm is a bright, oval-shaped storm with high, bright, white clouds, reminiscent of a swirling galaxy. As a final touch, he rotated the image 90 degrees, turning the picture into a work of art.
See Jovian clouds in striking shades of blue in this new view taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
The Juno spacecraft captured this image when the spacecraft was only 11,747 miles (18,906 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds — that’s roughly as far as the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia.
This beautiful image of the crescents of volcanic Io and more sedate Europa is a combination of two New Horizons images taken March 2, 2007, about two days after New Horizons made its closest approach to Jupiter.