NASA Captures Jupiter’s True Colors, and It’s a Special Sight

These days, whenever I see an image of something in the cosmos, I squint in suspicion before reveling in awe. I wonder: is it Actually what does this thing look like?

Most of the time, scientists add artistic flourishes to their space images. It’s not just for the fun of it (although that’s kind of fun), but because a bit of colorization can emphasize stark planetary visuals or depict cosmic light undetectable by human pupils.

What this means, for us space watchers, is that no matter how hard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope tried to convince us, the Carina Nebula doesn’t look like hot, melted caramel. . Despite what elementary school textbooks say, Venus is not a mustard yellow sphere. And contrary to what the Hubble Space Telescope suggests, the Veil Nebula is unfortunately not an iridescent rainbow worm. I could go on.

So every time I look at a picture of a realm beyond Earth, I know is not colorized, I watch a little longer than usual – and on Tuesday we were lucky to have such a wonder.

This is the left side of the following image, taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This is roughly what the surface of Jupiter would look like if we could look at it as if we were gazing at the moon. king of the solar systemIn effect.

On the left is a wispy, beige version of Jupiter.  On the right is the same image, except with blue, orange, and yellow tints.

NASA Juno’s 43rd close flyby of the giant planet on July 5, 2022 gave us this Jovian image.

Data by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, and image processing by Björn Jónsson

Can’t help but look to the right side? Same. But be careful. This is one of those suspicious processed images. It has increased color saturation and contrast to accentuate small-scale Jovian features, NASA said in a statement. This manipulation was important to reduce noise or other artifacts in the portrait, the agency explains.

“This clearly reveals some of the most intriguing aspects of Jupiter’s atmosphere,” NASA said, “including color variation resulting from a different chemical composition, the three-dimensional nature of Jupiter’s swirling vortices, and small clouds. brilliant “pop-ups” that form in the upper parts of the atmosphere.”

Sure, this version of Jupiter’s mottled skin is undeniably more visually striking — but consider how left-handed our reality is. In space, there is an orb made of swirling gas that could hold over 1,300 Earths inside. And… it probably looks like this?

Carina Nebula: Stars twinkle on an indigo background above clouds of rusty bronze gas

James Webb Space Telescope image of the Carina Nebula.


Our latest special lens on Jupiter is courtesy of citizen scientist Björn Jónsson, who collected and compiled publicly available data taken with NASA’s Juno mission. Juno is a spacecraft that spans the width of a basketball court and makes long looping orbits around the red-brown world while capturing information and images about its planetary muse.

Since launching from Earth in 2011, Juno has been a force.

He returned a spectacular photobook of photos of Jupiter, ranging from colorized watercolor swirls of azure and opal, to a gorgeous pink view of the Jovian atmosphere and even duller, more realistic images of its layers.

NASA image of vortex-like whirlpools that represent giant storms on Jupiter.

Recent JunoCam image of the incredibly huge storms decorating Jupiter’s north pole region.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Brian Swift

Additionally, on April 9, Juno reached its closest point of approach to Jupiter, reaching just over 2,050 miles (3,300 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops, paving the way to this kind of stop-motion film.

On April 9, JunoCam captured what it would be like to taxi with the spacecraft. Citizen scientist Andrea Luck created this animated sequence using raw JunoCam image data.

Data by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, and image processing by AndreaLuck

As for the new image of the gas giant revealed by Jónsson, Juno was about 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops at a latitude of about 50 degrees. “At this time, the spacecraft was moving at approximately 130,000 mph (209,000 kilometers per hour) relative to the planet,” NASA said.

Yet another victory for Juno and another introspective space treasure for us.

It’s things like that that evoke a kind of strange feeling in me – a mixture of existential dread, amazement, silence. They are reminders of our small, but remarkably intelligent, perspective on the universe.

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