NASA’s Juno Probe Takes Stunning Photo Of Jupiter’s Clouds That Look Like Icing On A Cupcake

Like icing on a cupcake! Jupiter’s cloud swirls and peaks are seen in incredible detail in stunning new 3D renderings of NASA’s Juno spacecraft

  • NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since arriving on the planet in 2016
  • The stunning photo was taken by JunoCam – the visible light camera on board Juno
  • They may look like the icing on a cupcake, but the textured swirls and spikes are actually clouds in Jupiter’s sky

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At first glance, this photo would forgive you for confusing it with a close-up of the icing on a delicious cupcake.

But the textured swirls and peaks are actually clouds in Jupiterwhich were photographed by Nasathe Juno probe.

Software developer Gerald Eichstädt has created stunning 3D renderings of clouds based on Juno data, which he presented at the Europlanet Science Congress this week.

‘The Juno mission gives us the opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way virtually inaccessible to terrestrial telescopic observations,’ said Dr Eichstäd.

At first glance, this photo would forgive you for confusing it with a close-up of the icing on a delicious cupcake. But the textured swirls and peaks are actually clouds in Jupiter’s sky, which were photographed by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Jupiter: the basics

orbital period: 12 years

Distance from the sun: 750 million kilometers

Area: 61.42 billion km²

rays: 69,911 km

Mass: 1.898 × ​​10^27 kg (317.8 M⊕)

Length of day: 0d 9h 56m

Moons: 53 with formal designations; countless additional moonlets

“We can observe the same cloud functionality from very different angles in just a few minutes.

“This opened up a new opportunity to derive 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud tops.

“Images of the wondrous chaotic storms on Jupiter seem to come to life, showing clouds rising to different altitudes.”

Juno is a NASA space probe that has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016.

On board, it has a visible-light camera called the JunoCamera, which regularly takes stunning photos of Jupiter and its moons.

Based on the different ways sunlight is reflected and scattered by Jupiter’s clouds, the researchers were able to determine the elevation of the cloud tops in the Juno photos.

Clouds in the upper atmosphere have the most intense solar illumination, Dr. Eichstadt explained.

But deeper in the atmosphere, more light is absorbed before being reflected back to the camera by the cloud tops.

Understanding the relative heights of spiny pillars in eddies could help scientists learn more about the elements that make them up.

Software developer Gerald Eichstädt has created stunning 3D renderings based on Juno data, which he presented at the Europlanet Science Congress this week

Software developer Gerald Eichstädt has created stunning 3D renderings based on Juno data, which he presented at the Europlanet Science Congress this week

“According to theoretical models, clouds should be composed of different chemical species, ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water ice from top to bottom,” Dr Eichstädt said.

“Once we have calibrated our data through further measurements of the same cloud tops, we will test and refine the theoretical predictions and have a better 3D picture of the chemical composition.”

The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a five-year, 1.8 billion mile (2.8 billion km) journey from Earth.

After a successful braking maneuver, it entered a long polar orbit, flying within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of the planet’s swirling cloud tops.

The probe skims just 2,600 miles (4,200 km) from the planet’s clouds once every fortnight – too close to provide global coverage in a single image.

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in our solar system.  It is a huge ball of gas composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, with some heavy elements

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in our solar system. It is a huge ball of gas composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, with some heavy elements

No previous spacecraft has orbited this close to Jupiter, although two others have been sent plunging to destruction through its atmosphere.

To carry out its risky mission, Juno survived a circuit-frying radiation storm generated by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.

The maelstrom of high-energy particles moving near the speed of light is the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.

To cope with the conditions, the spacecraft was protected with special radiation-resistant wiring and sensor shielding.

Its all-important “brain” – the spacecraft’s flight computer – was housed in a titanium armored vault and weighed nearly 400 pounds (172 kg).

The spacecraft should study the composition of the planet’s atmosphere until 2025.

How NASA’s Juno probe to Jupiter will reveal the secrets of the largest planet in the solar system

The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2016 after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth

The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2016 after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth

The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a five-year, 1.8 billion mile (2.8 billion km) journey from Earth.

After a successful braking maneuver, it entered a long polar orbit flying within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of the planet’s swirling cloud tops.

The probe flew just 2,600 miles (4,200 km) above the planet’s clouds once every fortnight – too close to provide global coverage in a single image.

No previous spacecraft has orbited this close to Jupiter, although two others have been sent plunging to destruction through its atmosphere.

To carry out its risky mission, Juno survived a circuit-frying radiation storm generated by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.

The maelstrom of high-energy particles moving near the speed of light is the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.

To cope with the conditions, the spacecraft was protected with special radiation-resistant wiring and sensor shielding.

Its all-important “brain” – the spacecraft’s flight computer – was housed in a titanium armored vault and weighed nearly 400 pounds (172 kg).

The spacecraft should study the composition of the planet’s atmosphere until 2025.

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