NASA has revealed an amazing close-up photograph of Jupiter captured by its Juno spacecraft.
The stunning image shows swirling* bands of cloud and whirlwinds of liquid and air within Jupiter’s northern hemisphere.
It was captured as the Juno spacecraft performed its 13th close fly-by* of the planet.
At the time, Juno was about 15,450km from the planet’s cloud tops.
The region looks chaotic* and stormy with dark and bright cloud formations* swirling around.
The bright clouds are most likely ammonia or ammonia and water, mixed with a sprinkling of unknown chemicals.
Looking from ground-based telescopes, Jupiter’s surface looks white but Juno’s camera allows scientists to see the planet’s surface and its weather system in greater detail.
Juno will continue studying Jupiter for another three years after NASA extended its $1.1 billion program to July 2021.
See video below from Juno’s first fly-by Jupiter
“With these funds, not only can the Juno team continue to answer longstanding questions about Jupiter that first fuelled* this exciting mission, but they’ll also investigate new scientific puzzles motivated by their discoveries thus far,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., said.
“With every additional* orbit*, both scientists and citizen scientists will help unveil new surprises about this distant world,” he said.
Juno launched in August 2011 and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. The spacecraft is studying Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields as well as its thick atmosphere.
MORE READING ABOUT SPACE
FIVE JUPITER FACTS
1. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined.
2. Jupiter spins faster than any other planet, taking a little under 10 hours to complete a turn on its axis, compared with 24 hours for Earth.
3. Jupiter has at least 63 moons. The four largest moons are called Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
4. Jupiter broadcasts radio waves strong enough to detect on Earth.
5. The temperature near the planet’s centre may be about 23,870 degrees Celcius — hotter than the surface of the Sun.
swirling: moving in a twisting or spiral pattern
fly-by: to fly past something
chaotic: in a state of confusion or not in order
formations: a thing that has been formed
fuelled: started the idea for
orbit: the path of something around a planet
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
1. Name the spacecraft the captured the image of Jupiter.
2. How many fly-bys of Jupiter has it completed?
3. Which hemisphere is the image taken in?
4. When will Juno stop orbiting Jupiter?
5. What is Juno studying on Jupiter?
1. What I wonder about Jupiter…
The new photograph of Jupiter is fascinating! We know from the article that scientists had many questions about Jupiter — some of them have now been answered, but Juno’s discoveries have also raised new questions. What do you wonder about our solar system’s largest planet? Spend 15 minutes jotting down as many questions as spring to mind that you would love to know about Jupiter.
Extension: Juno’s mission will now run until 2021 but what happens after that? Imagine you are a NASA scientist in 2021 and write a letter to the government to convince them to provide more funding for further space exploration of Jupiter. In order to convince them you will need to provide reasons why it is beneficial to us on Earth.
Time: Allow 15 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.
QUESTION: Do you think you could live on Jupiter? Why or why not?
No one-word answers. Explain your reasons and use lots of adjectives.