A pimple on Jupiter

Image: NASA/JPL–Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Brian Swift.

During the thirty-sixth close approach of the gas giant planet Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, it snapped a raw image of tumultuous clouds in the South Temperate Belt, and a large, dark cyclonic storm whirling its way through Jupiter’s ruddy atmosphere.

Brian Swift, described as a citizen scientist from California, took Juno’s raw image, projected it onto a sphere and processed it to produce this grand vista showing the sweeping arc of Jupiter’s limb, the churning clouds and the dark storm, its appearance like a deadly wound on the planet. (And no, close inspection does not reveal any monoliths!) Some 400 kilometres across, its dark colour is a result of winds descending in the eye of the storm, revealing darker material beneath the cloud tops.

The raw image was captured by Juno’s JunoCam on 2 September 2021, from a distance of 27,000 kilometres. If you want to have a go at processing some of Juno’s raw imagery for yourself, visit missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing, where you can have your pick of JunoCam’s raw images.