The Juno spacecraft, which is now orbiting Jupiter, serves as our eyes and ears in this mysteriously colourful and tumultuous globe. During its most recent flyover of the planet, the satellite photographed rare developments that were huge and monstrous in character churning on the surface.
Huge storms that were forming close to Jupiter’s north pole were photographed by the Juno spacecraft during its 43rd close encounter with the planet. Using its JunoCam equipment, the spacecraft captured vortices that were larger than what we see on Earth and resembled hurricane-like spiral wind patterns.
According to NASA, the storms visible in the photographs might be over 50 kilometres tall and hundreds of kilometres wide. Scientists are currently attempting to comprehend how these storms take place on the planet, which is a riot of colours when seen from land and space-based telescopes on Earth.
‘Figuring out how they form is key to understanding Jupiter’s atmosphere, as well as the fluid dynamics and cloud chemistry that create the planet’s other atmospheric features,’ Nasa said in a statement as it released the latest images from the biggest planet in the solar system.
The different sizes, colours, and shapes of these vortices are of interest to scientists. They are perplexed by cyclones, which revolve counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, and anticyclones, which rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern, and which display wildly divergent colours and shapes.
Citizen scientists have been asked by NASA to identify and assist in classifying these storms and other meteorological phenomena seen in Jupiter JunoCam images. According to the American space agency, ‘This process does not require specialist knowledge or software, and can be done by anyone, anywhere, with a cellphone or laptop.’
While the Juno cam continues to go around the planet and its moons, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which recently began science operations also looked at the planets during its test phase.
JWST observed different bands that encircle the planet and the Great Red Spot, a storm large enough to swallow the Earth, in the photographs obtained during the observatory’s commissioning, which Nasa has now made public. Due to the way Webb’s infrared photograph was processed, the recognisable point appears white in this picture.