Last week the Juno spacecraft made its first close pass of Jupiter. Passing within just 2500 miles of the surface the craft was able to take unprecedented pictures of the gas giant.
In the image below you can see the north pole of Jupiter. The thing that most stands out for me is that it doesn’t look anything like Jupiter! Instead of having the bands of reddish clouds that we are all familiar with there is this blue tinge to the atmosphere; there also appears to be localised swirls that could be hurricane-like storms. Note that there is not a hexagonal shaped storm around the pole like there is on Saturn.
The other great image to come from this first of 37 flybys is the one of the southern pole taken in infra red. This is the first time, ever, that we have seen Jupiters aurora australis. The image is a composite of three images taken as the probe moved away after the flyby.
Below is a short video of 580 images taken by the infra red camera and put together to form a sort of GIF. I promise it is worth taking a look. It’s like looking at the innards of the planet which makes sense given that that is the primary missions of Juno.
Over the next year or so we will get much more detail from Juno as it continues its series of very close passes. Learning about the poles and interior of the largest planet in our solar system looks set to be a very interesting adventure.