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.
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.
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All About Space magazine (opens in new tab) takes you on an awe-inspiring journey through our solar system and beyond, from the amazing technology and spacecraft that enables humanity to venture into orbit, to the complexities of space science.