NASA’s Juno completed its 43rd flyby of Jupiter on July 5 and has delivered spectacular new close-ups of the king of the planets. Among the treasure trove of data and images, one that particularly struck the mission team was a glorious view of the North Pole as cyclones swirl and stir the Jovian atmosphere.
This image was processed by citizen scientist Brian Swift, with enhanced colors to better see the hurricane-like spiral patterns. The powerful storms causing the vortices can be 50 kilometers (30 miles) in height and hundreds of kilometers across.
The image was taken when Juno was 25,100 kilometers (15,600 miles) above Jupiter’s clouds and at a latitude of about 84 degrees north. Their formation and behavior are key to understanding the complex churning of the atmosphere of a gas giant. And help for that comes from other citizen scientists.
A project from the citizen science platform Zooniverse is helping study these fascinating weather phenomena. Jovian Vortex Hunter has currently over 2,400 volunteers that are helping categorize these vortices with just a laptop or cellphone. Almost 377,000 classifications have been carried out so far. You can see all Juno's raw data available for processing here.
The Juno mission, which began in 2016, has been extended until September 2025, after two previous mission extensions. At the end of September this year, Juno will perform a flyby of Jupiter's moon Europa, getting just 355 kilometers (221 miles) over the icy moon, so expect more incredible images then.