NASA has continued its trend of releasing ever more impressive images of Jupiter with this stunning overview of the planet’s tempestuous weather.
Taken by the Juno spacecraft the image reveals the sheer breadth of colours that make up the gas giant’s cloud belts and gives some indication of the frightful speeds at which they’re moving.
With storms travelling at speeds of up to 355mph, Jupiter’s weather means that it is not a place you would want to visit for long.
In fact for now, none of us would ever be able to get this close to the planet thanks to its lethal radiation belt that extends for millions of miles.
Taken on the 16th December, 2017, the image also conveys the sheer size of the planet.
Each pixel in this image represents 5.6 miles.
The gas giant is 300 times more massive than our planet and five times farther from the sun. Jupiter years are twelve times longer than earth’s, but the planet rotates so fast that its days are only 10 hours long.
If it had been just 80 times larger Jupiter would have become a star with its very own solar system. Instead it remains a giant among our planets, indeed minus the sun, Jupiter contains more than twice the amount of material within everything else in our solar system - all the planets, moons, asteroids and comets.
NASA clearly built the Voyager spacecraft hoping that they could reach interstellar space but just in case, they set the bar far lower. Initially Voyager's mission was simply to make it to Jupiter and Saturn, little did they know that both spacecraft would exceed all their expectations.
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When the Voyager spacecraft arrived at Jupiter in 1979 it started taking pictures, lots of them. Some 33,000 photos laters and scientists had made some incredible discoveries ranging from the erupting volcanoes of the Jupiter's moon IO to the hurricane-like storms that covered Jupiter's terrifying surface.
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Arriving at Saturn in 1981, both Voyager spacecraft altered our understanding of this ringed giant. Not only did we first discover that Europa had a vast subsurface ocean but it allowed us to actually measure the wind speed on Saturn revealing a gas giant that suffered from a permanent 1,100mph gale at its equator.
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Incredibly, Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited both the planets Neptune and Uranus. When it arrived at Uranus in 1986 it made some incredible discoveries including 11 previously undiscovered moons around Uranus. When it arrived at Neptune in 1989 the records continued to be set as it discovered the planet's 'Great Dark Spot'. Later that year Voyager 2 would turn its cameras off, they will never be switched on again.
On February 14 1990 Voyager 1 would take one last look back at our solar system and capture one of the most famous pictures ever taken. 'Pale Blue Dot', is a part of the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. From Voyager's great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
At around 5PM EST Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 and became the most distant man-made object in space. Travelling at a speed of around 39,000 km/h Voyager 1 was some 6.5 billion miles from the Sun.
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On the 25 August 2012 Voyager 1 becomes the first human-made object to leave the solar system and enter the vast blackness of interstellar space. It is now 11,600,000,000 miles from the Sun. In that same month Voyager 2 officially became NASA's longest-running mission in history.
40 years later Voyager 1 is now some 13 billion miles away. Despite what feels like an almost unimaginable distance, it is still transmitting back to Earth and will continue to do so well into the 2020s.