NASA's Juno spacecraft is hanging around Jupiter snapping unbearably gorgeous photos (and collecting data). With help from "citizen scientists," the images are getting processed and revealing the solar system's largest planet as its never been seen before.
One of those images is the below shot, taken by Juno on Dec. 11 from a mere 5,400 miles above Jupiter's clouds. The image was processed by Sergey Dushkin from the raw images NASA shares at the JunoCam site. Dushkin also cropped the image to help focus viewers on "the dynamic clouds" of this region, as NASA puts it.
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In the above image, you see the planet's cloud tops west of the Great Red Spot "with resolution better than any previous pictures from Earth or other spacecraft."
Juno began its orbit around the gas giant on July 4, 2016, and has been circling and gathering data ever since. The initial plan was for Juno to do a couple of 53.5-day orbits and then close in for a 14-day orbit pattern. However, NASA plans to keep the longer orbit due to propulsion issues. That means the next close flyby is expected to take place on March 27.
Also, propulsion problems make the whole scenario sound bad, when there are actually some benefits to the longer orbit, as NASA explained in an update. It will allow for "bonus science," including an exploration of Jupiter's magnetic field (the Jovian magnetosphere).
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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He was never in a prog rock band named the Jovian Magnetosphere, but wishes he had been. Follow him @dlukenelson.