Phenomena

Jupiter’s Swirls

Collage of images showing Jupiter's clouds

Sometimes it amazes me that the Juno spacecraft was originally designed without any cameras onboard. The JunoCam instrument has produced stunning imagery of Jupiter thus far and shows no signs of stopping soon. The latest wonder is this false-color, high-contrast animation showing the motion of Jupiter’s clouds swirling and flowing past one another. 

Now, this is not Jupiter as you would see it by eye. This animation is derived from two images taken 8 minutes and 41 seconds apart. In that time, Juno  covered a lot of distance, so the two images had to be mathematically re-projected so that they appeared to be taken from the same location. Then, by comparing relative positions of recognizable features in the two photos and applying some understanding of fluid mechanics, observers could calculate the probable flow between those two states. Although this is a coarse example, it’s the same kind of technique often used in fluid dynamical experiments when measuring how flows change between two images. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/SwRI/MSSS/G. Eichstädt, source; via EuroPlanet; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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