Jupiter’s Cloud Tops: From High to Low


Jupiter’s Cloud Tops: From High to Low

view from NASA's Juno spacecraft

This view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures colorful, intricate patterns in a jet stream region of Jupiter’s northern hemisphere known as “Jet N3.”

Jupiter’s cloud tops do not form a simple, flat surface. Data from Juno helped scientists discover that the swirling bands in the atmosphere extend deep into the planet, to a depth of about 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers). At center right, a patch of bright, high-altitude “pop-up” clouds rises above the surrounding atmosphere.

Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt created this enhanced-color image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. The original image was taken on May 29, 2019, at 1:01 a.m. PDT (4:01 a.m. EDT) as the Juno spacecraft performed its 20th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 6,000 miles (9,700 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds, at a latitude of 39 degrees north.

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt

Last Updated: Oct. 29, 2019

Editor: Yvette Smith

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October 31, 2019 2:37 am

Its beautiful, and surprise the weather keeps on changing.


Big T
Reply to  Michael
October 31, 2019 3:00 am

And, that damn imu drives me nuts!! Liberty, liberty liberty liberty!!! I’d like to shoot the son of a bitch. But yes, Jupiter is pretty.

October 31, 2019 2:53 am

Juno camera is a toy. it was tacked onto the mission for “communication and outreach”, it has no scientific value.

it’s a shame we don’t get more of the real science, which is upturning everything they thought they “knew” about Jupiter, instead of second rate PR pics.

Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 3:47 am


“As Juno’s eyes, it helps provide context for the spacecraft’s other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft primarily for public engagement purposes, although its images also are helpful to the science team.”

Welcome to : public engagement purposes

Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 4:09 am

greg: “Welcome to : public engagement purposes”

It’s bit more inclusive than NASA’s “Muslim Outreach.” That was a tad narrower in scope and slightly off of NASA’s primary mission.

Bryan A
Reply to  H.R.
November 1, 2019 4:03 pm

Jusssst a little bit

Jim G
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 4:38 am

It seems to me that that to not engage those who are paying for said data would be a bit short sighted.
No scientific value also seems to be a bit petty.
Do you suppose that kids will be more inspired to become scientists if you show them a chart of chemical reactions or the visual results of adding hydrogen peroxide to potassium permanganate?

OTOH, since people are largely visual creatures, what better way to than to present visual data than in the form of an image?

No objection from me for NASA to provide more of the numerical data as well.

Reply to  Jim G
October 31, 2019 6:23 am

These images have virtually no scientific value, we have more detailed images of Jupiter taken from Earth. But yes, you are correct, jerking off the public who are footing the bill is probably a sound commercial strategy.

when the first “junocam” images were made available ( three different non-indexed frames taken at different times ) I spent some time stitching them all together and rotating and a scaling the match, only to find out that the result was of no interest anyway.

I suppose I could have got the accolade of becoming ” citizen scientist” if I’d uploaded the results though.

Anna Keppa
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 10:14 am

Why not post some urls of “more detailed images of Jupiter taken from Earth”?

You know, the ones with fine resolutions, equal or better to those obtained using the JunoCam.

ESPECIALLY show the ones with fine-detail closeups.

While you’re at it, show us images of the poles, taken from straight overhead.

Bryan A
Reply to  greg
November 1, 2019 4:01 pm

There is an apparent parallel between climate science and space science.
With Climate Science, reported findings of doom and gloom and required changes produces public outcry for further funding.
With Space Science the production of Pretty Pictures produces public outcry for further funding

Terry Harvey
October 31, 2019 3:16 am

Don’t sneer at something that produces beautiful images. Lift your eyes from the mud.

Reply to  Terry Harvey
October 31, 2019 5:58 am

my gf messes around with melting coloured wax and produces much more beautiful images. What i expect from NASA is science, not pretty pics. These muddy brown swirls are not even pretty. more like swirling mud.

I’m sure there’s some pretty important data being gathered and I’d rather hear about that than be patronised with low res pics of swirling mud.

Kenneth Hunter
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 8:10 am

I wonder if you’ve ever actually viewed any of NASA’s data sites.

Anna Keppa
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 8:38 pm

Hey, effwit: why not show us your high-res pics taken from Earth?

ESPECIALLY the ones taken of the poles??

Face it: you’re a low-res buffoon.

October 31, 2019 3:42 am

“Jupiter’s cloud tops do not form a simple, flat surface. “

Yes. This video, taken in IR (5μm wavelength) light, provides an impression of the 3d stereoscopic structure of the Jovian atmosphere at the North pole, where eight planetary cyclones permanently revolve around a ninth, polar vortex, cyclone:

More info here:

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Johanus
October 31, 2019 6:14 am

“provides an impression of the 3d stereoscopic structure of the Jovian atmosphere at the North pole, where eight planetary cyclones permanently revolve around a ninth, polar vortex,”

I saw an amazing picture of Jupiter’s north pole not long ago.

The next question is why do the north poles of Jupiter and Saturn look different? Why doesn’t Saturn have nine planetary cyclones at it’s north pole? Instead, Saturn has a jet stream that looks like a hexagon. Maybe Saturn does have nine cyclones, and we just can’t discern them.


Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 31, 2019 6:45 am

Saturn has cyclones too, but they do not seem to show up clearly in visible light. The Jupiter cyclones were recorded in a longer IR wavelength

BTW, I am just guessing that the 8 Jovian cyclones are ‘permanent’, because they look very stable, and have been there for a least a year.

Reply to  Johanus
October 31, 2019 6:46 am

Another stereo view, this time in visible light, taken by Juno a bit further out, roughly a million miles above the equatorial zone of Jupiter. It is a “stereo pair”, which means you can see a 3-dimensional image if you know how to focus your eyes at infinity and let the two images fuse together into a 3D image.

Actually, the spacecraft is so far above the clouds you can hardly see any depth to the clouds, but you can clearly see the curvature of Jupiter, above and below the equator.

But you can also see one of Jupiter’s 80 moons, IO, transiting across the planet’s surface. The depth of field against IO is amazing to see. IO is approximately the same size as our Moon, and also about the same distance from its planet, about 250,000 miles.

Reply to  Johanus
October 31, 2019 8:24 am


Yes, I know it is “Io”. But I was not paying attention, and my computer-scientific fingers seemed to have a will of their own.

Reply to  Johanus
October 31, 2019 11:50 am

Oops, I just figured out that my “stereo pair” above, of Io transiting Jupiter, is fake, cleverly manufactured from this Hubble monograph taken in 1990:

While it is possible to create true stereoscopic views from a single, moving, camera lens, the objects in the view must remain relatively stationary, while sidereal motion creates the required stereoscopic separation. In the case of Io, which revolves around Jupiter every 2 days, this would clearly be impossible, given Jupiter’s revolve period of 12 years.

I became suspicious when I noticed the “curvature” of Jupiter’s cloud surface looked rectilinear, an artifact created by the transformation needed to shift Io’s relative pose on the image. The resulting “stereogram” was rather stunning, but completely fake.

So, do authentic stereograms of heavenly surfaces exist? Yes. Here’s a stereogram of the Sun’s surface, taken by two dedicated solar satellites in near-Earth orbits, named Stereo A (‘Advanced’) and Stereo B (‘Behind’). [Stereo B sadly went out of commission in 2016]


Carl Friis-Hansen
October 31, 2019 3:44 am

Beautiful picture.
I will email the picture to some of my warmish friends and explain that this is how atmosphere will look in less than 12 years, if we do not stop the weather by paying more to the UN jamborees. As a post scripture, I will give the link to this article though.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
October 31, 2019 4:31 am

How can anyone fail to be impressed by this? I mean, how incredible is it that NASA was able to figure out that the jet stream region in the picture is “known as ‘Jet N3′”?

October 31, 2019 5:20 am

OH, I like that photo! It’s nice to see my tax money go to something that I can see.

Reply to  Sara
October 31, 2019 6:04 am

yes, all their PR output keeps calling everything a “science flyby” or “science orbit”, it seems like they feel they need to convince everyone they are actually doing some science, somewhere.

maybe this is to contrast to what “earth science” colleges are doing at giss , falsifying data and living in a computer modelled fantasy world.

Tom Abbott
October 31, 2019 6:04 am

There’s your “Climate Change”. It’s been going on since the planets formed.

October 31, 2019 6:09 am

“Jupiter’s cloud tops do not form a simple, flat surface. ” no shyt sherlock.

maybe they could try to explain the regular geometric cyclones at the north poles of Jupiter and Saturn instead of making banal comments about muddy swirling clouds. pathetic.

Anna Keppa
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 10:31 am

Greg, without the JunoCam we we wouldn’t even know that those cyclones exist, because they can’t be seen from Earth. (btw: Jupiter has cyclones at both poles, but Saturn has only one, at the north)

As for explanations, here’s some:



As for muddy, swirling clouds — are you really saying that the wording of one article defines what we know about Jupiter’s clouds?


For those unsatisfied with simply steeping in ignorance, the May 2019 issue of “Sky and Telescope” magazine has an article about the JunoCam’s photos, and how amateur astro-photographers are using computer processing to bring out fine details of their images.

And here’s an article about Saturn’s cloud cover:


Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 2:20 pm

IMNSHO, you’re the pathetic one. Pathetic because you can’t appreciate beauty; pathetic because you can’t accept that a comment can be quite meaningful to someone other than yourself; pathetic because you have to complain about everything. And pathetic because (to make a prediction) you’ll probably go through the rest of your life like that, and die that way too.

Anton Eagle
Reply to  greg
October 31, 2019 8:04 pm

Greg… give it a rest. You’re not helping in any way.

October 31, 2019 7:33 am

What is most amazing is that every time we get a closer look at things we’ve been looking at for hundreds of years we find that our “theories” about them are all wrong! God definitely has a sense of humor and the joke is on us.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  JimG1
October 31, 2019 2:20 pm

“God definitely has a sense of humor and the joke is on us.”

I heard a joke the other day atributed to the Irish: They say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

I thought that was pretty funny.

October 31, 2019 8:12 am

Of the many reasons to explore space there is a bottom line reason, that is where the riches are for mining.

I like the photo, its almost like a work of art. Send more.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Olen
October 31, 2019 10:20 am

The asteroids could probably supply Earth’s resources and we could eliminate potentially hazardous asteroids, once we gain the technology. That’s why I let BOINC use my computer idle time to crunch data for the Asteroids@Home project. A model of the asteroid belt which shows everything is a much more worthwhile project than a climate model that predicts everything, IMO.

October 31, 2019 8:34 am

Why the fact that we see within the optical range only about 1 out of 10 galaxies is being obviously “quietly silenced”? Becuase it goes against the “dark matter” hypothesis and, therefore, against the orthodox Big Bang dogma?

Rod Evans
October 31, 2019 1:39 pm

Has Greg got a perspective problem or what?

nw sage
October 31, 2019 7:14 pm

And soooo? what will the future climate be on Jupiter? warmer or colder? and why?

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