(Pocket-lint) - NASA's Juno spacecraft was designed to help us explore Jupiter and analyse the planet to assess how giant planets like it help with the formation of other planets.
It's thought that by studying Jupiter scientists will be able to better understand how our solar system formed. Juno originally launched back in 2011 and arrived in Jupiter's orbit several years later in the middle of 2016.
Since then it has been used to study all sorts of things from the planet's gravitational fields to water and wind presence in the atmosphere. That data is being studied and analysed and has helped form new theories about the planet.
It has also resulted in some incredible images, not just of the planet itself but its surrounding moons too. We've collected some of the most interesting for you to enjoy.
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Jupiter is subject to some seriously impressive winds. Those winds are so strong they can be seen easily from space. The analysis also suggests that the winds are more than 1,800 miles deep and able to sheer conductive martial from the lower atmosphere and move it around the planet. This action then leads to changes in the planet's magnetic field.
This image was captured at the start of 2021 and was taken 10,2200 miles from the top of the clouds present on the planet at the time.
Enhanced fly by
Juno's orbit of Jupiter is surprisingly large and usually means it's travelling at quite a distance. This is partly necessary due to the radiation from the planet but it also does give some interesting views when the spacecraft comes close to the planet.
This image from 2018 shows the view of the planet from 4,400 miles above the cloud tops. It's been colour enhanced but shows the weird and wonderful makeup of the cloud-rich atmosphere as well as the anticyclonic storms taking place.
A vortex view
This image was taken in late 2019 during Juno's 23rd close fly by of Jupiter.
It shows a close and interesting look at a vortex range in the atmosphere. It is said that Jupiter's atmosphere is made up of many persistent areas of cloud and this vortex is one of them.
It's approximately 1,200 miles wide and though the clouds are mostly made from hydrogen and helium the colours are often changed by other gases from below.
Deep cloud motion
Jupiter is fascinating for a number of reasons. Not least of which is the fact that the planet has no solid surface like our own home planet. Instead, it's a stormy and chaotic mess.
This image from Juno's 24th fly by shows a particularly stormy area of the planet. With winds running deeper and lasting far longer than those on Earth.
At a glance you might be forgiven for thinking that this photo is of our own moon, but it is in fact a shot of Ganymede.
Ganymede is one of Jupiter's 79 moons. An icy moon with a pockmarked surface.
Juno took the images of Ganymede on a close flyby at just 645 miles from the surface. The final image you're seeing here is actually the result of a composition of several images stitched together. That's because Juno's imager took "strips" of images as it passed by. This is why you can see stitching in the bottom right.
This is not only an impressive image of Jupiter but also a point of interest to researchers.
It's known as "Clyde's spot" after amateur astronomer Clyde Foster who discovered it.
Initially, the pattern seen here was thought to be a plume of materials erupting through the atmosphere from below.
But where most of Jupiter's atmospheric features are subject to regular change due to the aggressive climate, this area stayed in position but changed shape, developing a more complex structure over the next year.
Jupiter's surface often looks fluid-like in its make-up. This image resembles coffee in our mind, an angry coffee perhaps, but an interesting one.
What you're seeing is actually impressive cloud formations that are as deep as 1,900 miles. These high rise cloud formations create fascinating patterns in the atmosphere for our viewing pleasure.
Some of the areas of the atmosphere of Jupiter certainly show an intriguing vision of the giant planet.
This one taken in May 2019 shows an area within a Jovian jet stream which appears to show a vortex with an incredibly dark center. This area looks like a black hole with swirling masses around it.
A cloudy marble
This image of Jupiter appears to show it as a shiny, cloudy, massive marble in the dark depths of space.
The image is actually a compilation of four different images taken during several passes that Juno made of Jupiter as it passed close by in May 2019.
Again, you can see the rough atmospheric activity and the satisfying visuals that they create.
We've already established that Jupiter has a dramatic atmosphere. This perspective of the planet just reinforces that idea.
The view taken here was captured at 8,000 miles from the cloud tops and shows wonderful swirling clouds around a circular feature within a jet stream in the area.
Viewed from any angle Jupiter's atmosphere is clearly incredibly turbulent and rife with activity.
What makes this shot interesting though is the view of the Great Red Spot at the top of the image.
This is a persistent area of Jupiter's atmosphere said to produce an anticyclonic storm. This spot is thought to have existed for at least 356 years.
The Great Red Spot
The Great Red Spot was snapped by Juno in 2017 at a distance of 5,000 miles.
Research shows that this area of the atmosphere has been shrinking over the last few years yet at one point it was said to be three times the diameter of Earth. Which shows just how large Jupiter is overall.
Not just the largest planet
Jupiter is not just the largest planet in our solar system. It has more mass than any other planet in the system. That means it has more material in its make-up than all the planets, moons, asteroids and comets close to us.
It's also made up of multiple elements including hydrogen, helium, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. It's all these elements that lead to the clouds.
It's thought that if it was a little larger, Jupiter could easily have been a red dwarf star rather than a planet.
Jupiter's hazy parts
Jupiter has notable features in its atmosphere that include thin bands that seem to run the entirety of the surface. These are areas of haze particles floating above the clouds, but scientists aren't quite sure what they're made from or indeed how they form in the first place.
This is a false colour rendering that even further highlights the numerous cyclones and turbulent nature of Jupiter's atmosphere.
This sort of imagery allows scientists to study and predict Jupiter's storms and see how they evolve over time.
Rose tinted Jupiter
Here's a colour enhanced image of the northern hemisphere of the planet. It was taken in 2018 at over 7,000 miles from the top of the clouds.
Static images like this give a calm view of a planet in constant turmoil.
Europa is another one of Jupiter's many moons. Europa is believed to have conditions on its surface that may make it suitable for life.
Like the other moons it has been pounded by space debris over the centuries, but it also has an icy surface, a salty ocean and the right conditions for life.
NASA is employing the Europa Clipper spacecraft to investigate further.
Infrared view of Ganymede
Near the end of July 2021 the Juno spacecraft used its Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper to capture images of Ganymede.
These images capture light not visible to the human eye with the intention of helping researchers assess the composition of the moon's surface and the liquid beneath it.
This incredibly blue image of Jupiter is enhanced but shows a cloud system in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere. The angle of the capture means you can see the higher-up clouds casting shadows on the other formations nearby.
The result is nothing short of incredible.
The Great Red Spot
Jupiter is known for having a stormy surface. The famous Great Red Spot is a particular point of interest and NASA says that the winds around that region are picking up speed.
In fact, the Hubble space telescope has detected that the winds at the edge of the spot are now as fast as 223 miles per hour.
The winds have been picking up over time and the research suggests this trend is going to continue moving forwards too.