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Cyclones Of Jupiter
Hugh Bollinger

Cyclones Of Jupiter

Jupiter's north polar cyclone along bottom edge of JunoCam image, 9-29-22 (credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech/SWRI)

The Juno spacecraft is in the second year of an extended mission to explore Jupiter, and to investigate the Jovian moons of Ganymede, Europa, and Io. According to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the solar-powered spacecraft has already performed initial flybys of Ganymede and of Europa. It has now set its cameras and infrared sensors to peer at Jupiter's volcanic moon, Io.

During one of its polar plunges across Jupiter's northern pole, to gain speed for reaching each of the moons, Juno coasted at 17,000 miles above the gas planet's cloud tops. The massive cyclones surrounding the pole were fully visible. In a gallery-worthy photography processed by a citizen scientist on the JPL team, the storms are seen rotating near the pole. Juno's camera captured their image rotating far below the space laboratory as it flew by. Jupiter has eight circumpolar cyclones, framing the northernmost one. A counterclockwise, anti-cyclone appears above the northernmost storm. The image shows features as small about 12 miles across.

It will be fascinating what sorts of close-up images of exploding volcanoes emerge after Juno's flyby of Io. WHB

Credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSSImage processing by Navaneeth Krishnan S CC BY 3.0

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