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See the latest stunning views of Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft whizzes by once every 53 days

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9:00am, June 16, 2017
Jupiter tropical zone

CLOUD TOWERS  The tiny white spots in this image of Jupiter’s south tropical zone, taken May 19, 2017, by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, are actually towers of clouds composed of ammonia ice and, perhaps, water ice. Located high in Jupiter’s atmosphere, these towers can stretch about 50 kilometers wide and reach roughly 50 kilometers tall.

Once every 53 days, Jupiter pulls Juno close. Locked in orbit since July 2016, the spacecraft has made five close flybys of the planet so far. More than 1,300 Earths could fit inside Jupiter, but Juno takes only two hours to zip from pole to pole. That mad, north-to-south trek is shown below in a sequence of 14 enhanced-color images taken May 19.

Each image’s width corresponds to the width of the field of view of JunoCam, Juno’s visible light camera. As the spacecraft zooms closer, to about 3,400 kilometers above the cloud tops, less total area of Jupiter can be seen, but more details emerge. Turbulent clouds, for example, signal massive tempests along the equator. New data from the mission reveal that near the equator, ammonia rises from unexpectedly deep in the Jovian atmosphere (

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