Giant picture of a giant planet



Saturn-bound Cassini captured this arresting view, the sharpest global portrait of Jupiter ever produced, as the spacecraft passed within 10 million kilometers of the planet on Dec. 29, 2000. Released by NASA last week, this true-color composite shows cloud features as small as 60 km across. White thunderstorms punctuate several of Jupiter’s cloud bands, while the Great Red Spot, a vortex bigger than Earth, sheds a wake. The thin, dark band in the planet’s northern half is Jupiter’s fastest jet stream. To assemble the 27 images that Cassini captured during an hour, scientists digitally repositioned and artificially re-illuminated each picture to correct for Jupiter’s rotation, thereby showing the entire planet as it would have appeared when the first image was taken.


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