Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) solar-powered Juno spacecraft has captured the seventh of Jupiter’s eight features forming a ‘string of pearls’— massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant planet’s southern hemisphere. The image was taken by the JunoCam imager on-board the Juno spacecraft.
Since 1986, these white ovals have varied in number from six to nine. There are currently eight white ovals visible. The image was taken on 11 December as the Juno spacecraft performed its third close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 24,600 kilometres from the planet, Nasa said.
JunoCam is a colour, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops. As Juno’s eyes, it will provide a wide view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft’s other instruments.
JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission’s science instruments, Nasa said. Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.