NASA’s Juno spacecraft beams back new images of the solar system’s largest planet.
On August 27, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured its first close-up images of Jupiter’s poles from orbit. The color pictures were taken with a wide-angle camera aboard the spacecraft called JunoCam. Jupiter is a gas giant with an atmosphere composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. Its skies are covered with thick clouds that form alternating light and dark bands in the planet’s equatorial region. Other notable features in its atmosphere include the Great Red Spot, a long-lasting storm first observed centuries ago that spans about 10,000 miles across, or 1.3 times the diameter of Earth. Similar hurricane-like storms are seen in the new Juno images of Jupiter’s north and south polar regions, though these storms appear to be much smaller in scale. Over the course of its mission, the Juno spacecraft will make 37 orbits around Jupiter, collecting data that will help scientists study its dynamic atmosphere. Explore the images to learn more.