Juno's striking new image of Jupiter reveal the planet's true swirling colors

Lose yourself in the planet's intricate and stunning atmosphere.
Fabienne Lang
NASA’s Juno mission reveals Jupiter’s complex colors.
NASA’s Juno mission reveals Jupiter’s complex colors.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson

Juno's latest image of Jupiter is some definite eye candy. Swirls of turquoise, milky white, deep ochre, and dark blue cover the planet's surface in a mesmerizing manner.

NASA's Juno probe snapped the picture on July 5, 2022, and after some digital enhancements by a citizen scientist, Björn Jónsson, the true colors and features in the turbulent atmosphere of the planet are now on full display in the same hues a human observer would see with the naked eye, as a NASA press release pointed out.

Now, we can all stare into space with a new-found appreciation for our solar system's largest planet.

The raw image was captured by Juno's JunoCam on the explorer's 43rd close flyby of Jupiter, at a distance of 3,300 miles (5,300 km), while it glided by at a "casual" 130,000 mph (209,000 kph).

Jónsson took the raw data from Juno and processed it to develop two images. The left-hand image is what we would see with the naked eye, and the right-hand one is digitally enhanced so that color and saturation highlight the planet's intricate atmosphere to stand out.

The end result is the stuff of dreams.

Aside from dreams and beautiful pictures, what the right-hand, enhanced image also brings to the fore is the complex architecture of the planet's atmosphere. You clearly see the variations in the chemical composition of different parts of Jupiter's atmosphere.

It also helps to reveal the three-dimensional nature of the powerful storms that blast around the planet's clouds. The planet's higher atmosphere clouds are also clearly visible in this way.

What you need to know about Juno

NASA's Juno launched in 2011 and headed off on a five-year journey to our solar system's largest planet – the gas giant Jupiter. In 2016, Juno finally arrived by Jupiter after its 1.7-billion-mile journey and began its mission: to probe beneath the planet's dense clouds and answer questions about the origin and evolution of the planet, our solar system, and giant planets in general across the cosmos.

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The probe settled into a 53-day polar orbit stretching from just above Jupiter’s cloud tops to the outer reaches of the Jovian magnetosphere and has been surveying the planet ever since. It was meant to be decommissioned in 2021, but is now set to retire in 2025.

Juno's striking new image of Jupiter reveal the planet's true swirling colors
Jupiter enhanced

As NASA explains, "Juno’s discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of Jupiter and solar system formation. During the prime mission’s 35 orbits of Jupiter, Juno collected more than three terabits (375 gigabytes) of science data and provided dazzling views of Jupiter and its satellites, all processed by citizen scientists with NASA’s first-ever camera dedicated to public outreach."

Juno’s many discoveries have clearly changed our view of Jupiter’s atmosphere and interior, revealing an atmospheric weather layer that extends far beyond its clouds and a deep interior with a diluted, or "fuzzy," heavy element core. Images such as Jónsson's enhanced one only assist in our further understanding of the gas giant.

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