Here’s a side of Jupiter you haven’t seen. Instead of the turbulent reds and browns you’d normally associate with the largest planet in our solar system, these swirling blues are found on Jupiter’s poles.
These churning indigoes are massive, cyclonic storms that are half the diameter of Earth, and are separate from the Great Red Spot, the tempestuous Earth-sized storm around Jupiter’s equator that has been observed for more than 350 years.
This image, and others like it, is being broadcast from NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter for nearly a year now. Juno swoops to within 4,200 kilometers from the top of Jupiter’s atmosphere every 53 days, and transmits 6MB of data with each pass, which takes one and a half days to download on Earth.
Juno has already surprised researchers with unusual data; besides the massive polar storms, it turns out that Jupiter’s magnetic field may be far larger than first thought, and that the gas giant may have a large core that may even be moving in different directions.
Juno might be off orbiting around a faraway planet, but the more it discovers about Jupiter, the more it enlarges our understanding of the planets in our solar system — including our own.