What if we told you that the clouds that cover Jupiter actually look like incredibly dreamy frosted tops on a cupcake? That’s because the spacecraft, Juno, took some photos and used 3D rendering to process them, and this was the result.
Moreover, the renderings from NASA’s JunoCam came in the visible-light spectrum, which means that the animations of these giant cloud tops found in the largest planet of our solar system would look exactly as they appear in these photos, which makes them even more awe-inspiring.
The results of these images were shown at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada by citizen scientist, professional mathematician, and software developer, Gerald Eichstädt.
By seeing and understanding the possible heights of these spiky pillars that are found within the swirls of these clouds helps scientists figure out more details about the elements that actually cause them to be as they are. Moreover, they can even be used as concept art for the next Frozen movie by Disney.
After going on a 1.7 billion-mile journey that took 5-years in total, the Juno camera arrived at the planet Jupiter on July 4th, 2016. It then settled into a 53-day polar orbit that allowed it to stretch from right above Jupiter’s massive clouds to the outer portions of the Jovian magnetosphere.
While Eichstädt originally put the JunoCam onboard to initially increase the public engagement around the exploration of Jupiter and its moons, he also managed to prove that the instrument can be incredibly valuable to science.
According to Dr. Eichstädt, “The Juno mission provides us with an opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way which is essentially inaccessible by Earth-based telescopic observations. We can look at the same cloud features from very different angles within only a few minutes.”
“This has opened up a new opportunity to derive 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud-tops. The images of the wonderful chaotic storms on Jupiter seem to come to life, showing clouds rising at different altitudes,” he added.
The team managed to pinpoint the elevation of the cloud-tops by using the different ways in which sunlight is reflected and scattered by clouds. For clouds found in the upper atmosphere, the solar illumination tends to be the most intense. When they are found deeper in the atmosphere, they can absorb more light – specifically by methane – before they scatter back up to the camera by the cloud tops.
Dr. Eichstädt also explains, “From theoretical models, the clouds are expected to be composed of different chemical species, ammonia, ammonium hydrosulphide, and water ice from top to bottom.”
He also said, “Once we calibrate our data thanks to other measurements of the same cloud tops, we will test and refine the theoretical predictions and have a better 3D picture of the chemical composition.”
These photos from the JunoCam have been said to be some of the most beautiful and breathtaking photos to have ever come from space observations. They are so spectacular, many have said that the colors, textures and patterns seen of the Jovian atmosphere look like they were painted by the most gifted artist in the world.
To see more on these magnificent clouds, take a look at the video below.
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