No, that’s not the sun. It’s Jupiter, ablaze with infrared light in new images taken in preparation for the Juno spacecraft’s July 4 arrival at the king of the planets. This image shows how heat welling up from deep within the planet gets absorbed by gas in the atmosphere, which can tell researchers how stuff moves around beneath Jupiter’s thick blanket of clouds. Juno won’t look for infrared light, but it will (among other things) measure how much microwave radiation is being blocked by water lurking within Jupiter’s atmosphere.
The map is pieced together from multiple images obtained at the Very Large Telescope in Chile over the past several months. Ground-based images such as these will help researchers understand what Juno is peering at each time it swoops in close to Jupiter’s clouds over the next 20 months.