Santa Claus isn’t the only one bearing gifts from the north pole at this time of year. NASA’s Juno orbiter also delivered a sackful of presents over the holidays, but from the pole of a different planet: Jupiter.
Juno’s main mission is to study Jupiter’s magnetic field and gravitational field, to give scientists a deeper understanding of the gas giant’s internal composition. But a visible-light camera called JunoCam was included on the probe, primarily to boost public outreach and education.
The latest encounter, known as Perijove 17, occurred on Dec. 21 and went over Jupiter’s north pole. One of the scientific objectives was to take pictures of the planet’s faint aurora with Juno’s navigational camera, known as the Stellar Reference Unit.
At the same time, JunoCam captured close-up views of Jupiter’s cloud tops, providing lots of raw imagery to keep image-processing gurus busy over the holidays.
Here’s a sampling of pictures from Perijove 17:
#JunoCam image Jupiter's north polar region from December 21, 2018. It was taken from an altitude of ~19,300 km during the #Perijove17 pass. This image captures the numerous cloud swirls (known as folded filamentary regions) that are common in the polar regions of Jupiter. pic.twitter.com/8K5nSQXIgJ
— Justin Cowart (@jccwrt) December 25, 2018
— Kevin M. Gill (@kevinmgill) December 26, 2018
— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) December 26, 2018
— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) December 25, 2018
Happy holidays from Juno at Jupiter! This is image PJ17_17 ("PJ17 Jet N5") obtained by @NASAJuno on December 21, 2018. Approximately true color/contrast versions and enhanced versions. pic.twitter.com/5XgahahaAP
— Björn Jónsson (@bjorn_jons) December 25, 2018
— Wil Santiago (@SpaceWilS) December 24, 2018
And here are a few highlights from past perijoves. Stay tuned for more in 2019!
— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) December 23, 2018
Congrats to @_TheSeaning & @NASAJuno, this photo is the best photo of 2018, chosen by thousands of visitors from the Dutch popular-scientific @Scientias. https://t.co/HEO8Xw24Ki pic.twitter.com/3312IKi8jZ
— Tim Kraaijvanger (@timkraaijvanger) December 26, 2018
So long and thanks for all the fish! 🐬
— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) November 30, 2018