NASA’s Juno spacecraft continues to beam back spectacular pictures of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, including this stunning view of a dark vortex spinning in a jet stream. It is surrounded by bright, higher-altitude clouds that have “puffed up into the sunlight,” according to a NASA description. The colour-enhanced image was captured 29 May when Juno was about 14,800 kilometres (9,200 miles) above Jupiter’s cloud tops at about 52 degrees north latitude. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed the image from Juno’s JunoCam instrument and named it Jupiter Abyss. Juno is now more than halfway through its extended mission to study the atmosphere and deep interior of the solar system’s largest planet.
Now that planet Saturn is effectively lost in the dusk twilight for UK-based observers, you may be wondering what has happened to the other four bright naked-eye planets. Far from disappearing, they have just transferred to the morning sky. From 8—11 October, the waning crescent Moon acts as a guide to Venus, Mars, Jupiter then Mercury in the eastern dawn sky.
An international team of scientists has solved an age-old scientific riddle by discovering that planetary rings, such as those orbiting Saturn, have a universally similar particle distribution. The study also suggests that Saturn’s rings are essentially in a steady state that does not depend on their history.
Observations with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (VLA) have given astronomers an unprecedented look into the atmosphere of Jupiter. The scientists used the VLA to study the dynamics of Jupiter’s atmosphere from the visible cloud surfaces down to about 60 miles (100 kilometres) below the clouds.