Jupiter Is a Gorgeous Swirling Mass of Clouds in New Footage from the Juno Spacecraft

See a bit of what Juno "saw" as it approached Jupiter for its recent flyby.

juno jupiter image
Enhanced image by Kevin M. Gill (CC-BY) based on images provided courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA's Juno mission continues to produce valuable science about Jupiter. It is also sending back stunning images of the solar system's largest planet.

NASA recently shared a series of images (below) that give a sense of what it would have been like to ride along with Juno during the approach for its 41st close flyby of Jupiter, which occurred on April 9. The JunoCam instrument captured images as it approached to just over 2,050 miles above the swirling clouds and storms of the gas giant. 

Citizen scientist Andrea Luck compiled the images from the raw JunoCam image data to create this animated look at Juno's approach, according to NASA's announcement.  

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS - Image processing by AndreaLuck © CC BY­­

When Juno reached that point just 2,050 miles above the surface of Jupiter's atmosphere, it was traveling at 131,000 miles per hour. In a post, NASA provided comparisons to contextualize what an incredible feat it is that Juno continues to make these close flybys. It was more than ten times closer to Jupiter than "satellites in geosynchronous orbit are to Earth." It was that close while simultaneously "traveling at a speed about five times faster than the Apollo missions did when they left Earth for the moon."

NASA launched Juno in 2011 with the goal of providing valuable insights about Jupiter. At the start of 2021, NASA extended Juno's mission and expanded the focus to look at Jupiter, "its rings, and moons," including close looks at the moons Ganymede, Europa, and Io. Juno's mission will last until September 2025, as long as the spacecraft continues to function. Hopefully, that means there are years of gorgeous images like this yet to come.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin on Twitter.