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.
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapour plumes erupting 125 miles (200 kilometres) off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth’s oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness.
The impact of a small comet or asteroid on Jupiter observed by European amateur astronomers on 17 March has heightened interest in the solar system’s largest planet. While such an event is uncommon, Jupiter and its family of four bright Galilean moons provide a wealth of other interesting phenomena to view with small telescopes during April.