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This gorgeous picture of Jupiter from NASA is just what we need right now

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view of Jupiter's southern hemisphere on Feb. 17, 2020.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill, © CC BY)

Even as Earth is in turmoil, NASA continues to share amazing pictures from across the solar system — allowing us to (virtually) travel far while staying in place.

There's no better example than a stunning new picture of Jupiter based on data from NASA's Juno spacecraft. The image shows the world's southern hemisphere in all its glory, including the whirls of the giant planet's atmosphere and its classic bands and stripes.

The window on Jupiter is a combination of four images that the onboard camera JunoCam took on Feb. 17, 2020; citizen-scientist Kevin M. Gill assembled the images into this stunning view. As it captured the images, Juno was orbiting between 30,700 and 62,400 miles (49,500 and 100,400 kilometers) above Jupiter's clouds.

Related: JunoCam images: Where science meets art and NASA meets the public

The primary goal of the Juno spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter in 2016, is to help scientists understand how Jupiter formed and evolved, according to NASA. Jupiter is the largest planet of our solar system. Studying it allows scientists to learn about how other large planets formed and to track how Jupiter has influenced the orbits of small worlds like asteroids, among other studies.

"Not only is Jupiter the largest planet orbiting the sun, it contains more than twice the amount of material of all other objects in the solar system combined — including all the planets, moons, asteroids and comets," NASA said in a news release accompanying the new picture. "In composition, Jupiter resembles a star, and scientists estimate that if it had been at least 80 times more massive at its formation, it could have become a type of star called a red dwarf rather than a planet."

If you have some extra time on your hands while remaining at home, NASA welcomes you to play with the Jupiter images yourself. The raw images are available here, and when you're finished, you can post them to the JunoCam website using the "Upload" button at the upper-right-hand corner.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.  


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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.