We all know Jupiter has a Great Red Spot, but the latest pictures from NASA’s Juno orbiter turn the spotlight on some nifty little white spots near the giant planet’s south pole.
The white oval storms may look like mere pockmarks on JunoCam’s profile, but they’re actually giant cyclones that are roughly as wide as the planet Mercury (3,000 miles or so).
“Jovian Antarctica” was one of the targets for Juno’s fourth close flyby of Jupiter on Feb. 2. The half-shadowed view of Jupiter’s disk was taken when the solar-powered probe was about 47,600 miles above the cloud tops.
Juno was launched in 2011, and entered Jovian orbit last July to begin a mission that focuses on Jupiter’s magnetic and gravitational fields as well as its interior composition. JunoCam was included as part of the instrument payload primarily for public outreach, and internet users get to vote on the camera’s targets.
The image data from Juno’s close flybys are made available for professionals and amateurs alike to play with. Browse through the photo gallery for the February flyby, and get ready to vote on your favorite targets for the next flyby.