Spacecraft reveals details of gas giant’s poles, auroras
JPL-Caltech/NASA, SWRI, MSSS
Swirling clouds blanket Jupiter’s northern and southern poles in the first closeup images of the planet taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Such intimate views of Jupiter have never been seen before.
Juno snapped a shot of the gas giant’s northern side in an August 27 flyby, from a distance of 195,000 kilometers. The prominent bands that ring Jupiter’s middle fade at the poles, replaced with hurricane-like whorls. The poles are nearly invisible from Earth, making a specialized space mission like Juno necessary to capture such rare images.
Jupiter’s poles are unlike those of its fellow gas giant, Saturn. That planet has a giant cyclone encircling each of its poles (SN: 11/8/08, p. 9).
During the flyby, Juno’s eight science instruments were furiously collecting data. An infrared camera imaged