NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole.
The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.
The images were captured during Juno’s first orbital flyby of the planet. During the flyby, the spacecraft hovered about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the planet’s swirling clouds, capturing images of Jupiter’s north and south poles.
“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
“It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”
The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Juno still has 36 more flybys of Jupiter, giving scientists more time to explore the wonders and mysteries of the giant planet.