NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Has a Close Encounter with Jupiter

Jan. 14, 2020

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Has a Close Encounter with Jupiter


A multitude of swirling clouds in Jupiter’s dynamic North North Temperate Belt is captured in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Appearing in the scene are several bright-white “pop-up” clouds as well as an anticyclonic storm, known as a white oval.

This color-enhanced image was taken at 4:58 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 4,400 miles from the planet’s cloud tops, at a latitude of approximately 40 degrees north.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager.

Image Credit: Enhanced image by Gerald Eichstädt and Sean Doran (CC BY-NC-SA) based on images provided courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2020

Editor: Yvette Smith

34 thoughts on “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Has a Close Encounter with Jupiter

    • yes, I can make some nice swirls with meleted coloured wax too.

      I don’t know why they bother with this mickey mouse “junocom”, it’s about as a good as dashcam as the name suggests.

      Well I do know actually , it’s called “outreach”, that’s why they play up the role “citizen scientists” the manage to solve the puzzle of aligning the different colour layers.

      No science here, just pretty pics PR funding work.

      The science is from the real instruments. Sadly we rarely hear about that because all they discover is how little they knew and how grossly wrong they were about everything they thought they “knew” about Jupiter.

      Rather like the hubris of climatology. Maybe that would make a better post here than these random cloud images.

      • Greg, have you tried “anger management”?

        By the way, maybe you could supply some links to the “real” science you were referring to.


          • Jeff, why don’t you research it then. See whether the Juno scientists wanted a camera on board , or whether it was pushed on them by the PR “outreach” people.

            Then check out the spec of the camera : it’s a joke. It’s there for public outreach, not for science. Like I said, it’s basically a dashcam for Juno.

            Fergie, if you manage to read “anger” into a technical criticism of a camera you need help. You are obviously deeply troubled. As for the science you know where to find google , I imagine. do your own leg work. you may find it interesting on the way to therapy.

      • Some advice: Better to have people think you are an ignorant rather than open your mouth (or keyboard) and prove it.

        JunoCam is a powerful multi-spectral imaging instrument that produces Gigabytes of valuable data on every pass of Jupiter. In fact, there is so much data that it will take researchers years to analyze it all. That’s one of the reasons that it has been made public, so that others can use it to make genuine discoveries. Just because you don’t understand any of it doesn’t make it worthless.

        Another piece of advice: Hatred and anger are corrosive. Keeping them inside you will only lead to a lonely bitter future.

      • Gee, I was thinking this as just a fantastic close-up image of another alien world that I was glad to live long enough to see and left me hoping for even more in the future. Apparently I was just duped by a publicity stunt. Silly me.

  1. I wish astronomers would stop “adjusting” space images. Most of the beautiful colorful images of nebulas are also color enhanced, as is this image. Why not just give us the ACTUAL real color images instead of fake PR images with fake colors. They might look beautiful, but they are as fake as the AGW computer models (not quite).

    • If it makes you feel better, call it “data visualization” instead of “adjusting” the image. The universe radiates in lots more wavelengths than we can see, and rendering that into an image can tell us something useful.

      Long ago, I spent a decade going to the ACM SiGGRAPH conference (ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, SIGGRAPH – Special Interest Group for Graphics). The primary focus was the kind of graphics that evolved into video games and movies, because that’s where the big money was, but there was a little corner of the conference for data visualization where I was (well, OK, I went to the the evening shows of the latest CG tech with everybody else — the ambiance was pure rock concert!). Jim Blinn, the guy at JPL who did the animations of the Voyager probes, was there. Somebody asked him what language he used for his work (this was late 80s or early 90s). He shuffled his feet and muttered “ummmm….. FORTRAN”. I got a chuckle out of that, having slung a great many lines of FORTRAN back in the day myself working on scientific instrumentation.

      Anyway, the point is that there’s a whole science of rendering the invisible visible for purposes of extracting scientific information. You’re just supposed to document what you did (as the authors of this image have).

    • I can tell you’ve never processed the raw CCD RGB data for an astroimage. I’ve processed 100’s of astroimages over 20 years. There’s no such thing as a “true color” image. In the case of an emission nebula most of the color comes from two emission lines, H-a at 656nm (deep red) and two OIII lines near 500nm (cyan). H-a is the dominant line.

      The cameras used to capture the photons from emission line objects have much different RGB filter responses than the filters you find in a standard DSLR. So right off the bat you don’t have true color.

      The emission line data is typically very low and contained in the first few hundred levels of each CCD pixel. In order to see the nebula it is necessary to apply a large amount of non-linear stretching to make the nebula visible and not blow out the highlights. Another reason for not true color.

      Computer displays cannot display 656nm for red. 620nm for pure red is more typical. Another reason for not true color.

      A non-enhanced color astroimage would have very little to see.

      You may have seen narrowband mapped color astroimages such as the famous HST Pillars in M16 image. The nebula is often green in these images. Narrow filters to enhance contrast are placed at three emission lines (often H-a, SII and OIII). This data is used to create the RGB channels. This is a false color image but is done so on purpose to enhance the contrast and reduce the noise in faint details.

      Without color and contrast enhancement techniques astroimages wouldn’t show much. The whole idea here is to see as much as possible. Scientific analysis of the data is a different subject altogether.

      • a non-enhanced image would have the shapes evident but the colors will be in more subtle shades of grays and browns

      • Agreed Chuck, especially about the nebulas where what you’re seeing are line spectra.
        The three bands on the camera are red (600–800 nm), green (500–600 nm), blue (420–520 nm), those can be combined in different ways to simulate what the human eye would see. Different computer screen set ups would show them slightly differently, I can set my computer for about 20 different configurations.

      • RE: “A non-enhanced color astroimage would have very little to see.”

        Just to see if I understand…

        Without color “enhancement”, we are doomed to see only the faint (by and large) black and white images of the solar system, galaxy and universe such as we see from Earth? (and that) barring the slightly-reddish tint of Mars, the off-white glow of the odd red giant, even Natty “Hawkeye” Bumppo sees 99 % gray in the night sky? (and that) there’s no point in the universe from which a person might look out of a space ship window to see the multitude of colors seen in the Sagittarius Star Cloud shown here (?):

  2. In the low rez image, I see the face of the Madonna. In the high rez version, I see a grotesque face. Being male, I also see a female breast. It’s a phenomenon called pareidolia.

    The picture of Jupiter reminds me of a story for which I can’t find a link.

    An art professor showed his post grad students an image and asked them if they could recognize it. They all agreed that it was a masterpiece by Jackson Pollock. Actually, it was an image of the professor’s paint spattered lab coat.

    • ” Being male, I also see a female breast. It’s a phenomenon called pareidolia”

      no, see a face is pareidolia, seeing breasts is a sign of frustration 😉

    • “In the low rez image, I see the face of the Madonna. In the high rez version, I see a grotesque face.”

      Yeah, the two images look identical to me as well.

  3. Color enhanced for more detail. Telescope, microscope, spectrometer, micrometer are all enhancement instruments used to measure and view with standards. Good to see what the eye sees and good with enhancement. Show more.

  4. I am amazed that millions of years of ‘mixing’ there is so little homogeneity in the atmosphere of Jupiter…
    And that even with the small amount of difference in molecular weight in the gasses, it can still stratify in the immense and dynamic turbidity that is occurring.

  5. Some people don’t like the picture and other pictures. They help to give structure to what our limited brains perceive. We have part of our brains that do pictures and part of our brains that do just data.

  6. I wish I could see an “Earth Color Enhanced Image” using the same algorithm so that I would have some context on Jupiter. I guess Earth is just pretty by itself that no one bothers. I bet if one picked the right wavelengths, the Earth has colorful swirls much like this image – or maybe our atmosphere is just too shallow.

    Still, this is a spectacular image.

  7. To all the turgid, one-dimensional thinkers who disparage these images as being of no merit or value (I’m looking at you, Greg), may I remind you of this quote from a man who actually knew what he was talking about:

    “Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”
    Richard P. Feynman

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