The color-enhanced image was taken on April 1 at 2:32 a.m. PST (5:32 a.m. EST), as Juno performed its twelfth close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 7,659 miles (12,326 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a northern latitude of 50.2 degrees.
For centuries, astronomers have been observing Jupiter swirling surface and been awed and mystified by its appearance. The mystery only deepened when, in 1995, the Galileo spacecraftreached Jupiter and began studying its atmosphere in depth. Since that time, astronomers have puzzled over its colored bands and wondered if they are just surface phenomenon, or something that goes deeper.
There is an “energy crisis” on Jupiter. At 800K (527ºC), its upper atmosphere is 600 degrees hotter than expected – a phenomenon also seen on the other giant planets in our solar system. And to make the matter even more perplexing, researchers have now discovered that the region of the atmosphere above Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a giant storm system, is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet.
Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter. This observation programme is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.