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Get Lost in Jupiter's Marbled Clouds with This Awesome NASA Photo

Jupiter's clouds as captured by Juno.
A processed view of Jupiter's clouds captured by the Juno spacecraft during its 18th close flyby of the gas giant.
(Image: © Kevin M. Gill/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

Earth's jet streams have nothing on Jupiter's, as seen in a stunning image newly released by NASA's Juno mission, which has been orbiting the gas giant since 2016.

The image shows a region called Jet N6, in the northern hemisphere of the planet's atmosphere. On the left is a large, circular storm; on the right, rippling clouds stretch through the jet stream band.

The Juno probe captured this image on Feb. 12, during its 18th scheduled close flyby of the planet, a maneuver known as a perijove. The spacecraft was about 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) above the clouds at the time.

Juno is an unusual NASA mission; although the spacecraft carries a camera on board, there is no dedicated imaging team to parse and process what that camera sees.

Instead, the instrument, called JunoCam, has attracted a global team of skilled amateurs who help shape which features the camera photographs and who convert run-of-the-mill snapshots into highly processed, artistic images. This image is just one example of their work.

The Juno spacecraft is about halfway through its Jupiter mission, where it skims over the gas giant's clouds about once every 53 days. Once the craft completes its studies, the probe will self-destruct by hurling itself into the very same atmosphere it has spent so long photographing to avoid contaminating potentially habitable moons nearby.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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