SCIENCE
01/08/2018 02:22 am ET

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Sent Back Some Spectacular Shots Of Jupiter

“We are rewriting our ideas of how giant planets work."

After orbiting Jupiter for a little more than a year and a half, NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently finished its 10th trip around the massive planet. Now the space agency is sharing some of the photos Juno snapped that were edited by citizen scientists, including this close-up shot of Jupiter’s surface:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran

The image was taken on Dec. 16, 2017 from nearly 8,300 miles above Jupiter’s clouds, and processed, or edited, by Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran. NASA routinely releases batches of photos taken by the Juno probe for the public to process and even asks for input about what the spacecraft should next capture.

“Jupiter completely fills the image, with only a hint of the terminator (where daylight fades to night) in the upper right corner, and no visible limb (the curved edge of the planet),” NASA wrote about the above shot.

Eichstädt and Doran released several other Juno probe images that they edited last month:

NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstadt / Sean Doran
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstadt / Sean Doran
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstadt / Sean Doran

According to NASA, the Juno program is a $1.1 billion endeavor to “understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter.” The probe has instruments on board that allow it to map Jupiter’s gravity fields, investigate the composition of its atmosphere and monitor the planet’s auroras, among other tasks.

The probe fully orbits Jupiter once every 53 days and ventures as close as 2,600 miles to the planet’s surface. Its current mission is slated to continue through July, but scientists may propose to extend it at that time.

“Juno is providing spectacular results, and we are rewriting our ideas of how giant planets work,” Scott Bolton, a principal investigator on the Juno program, said in a statement last February.

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