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Juno, extraordinary images of the Big Red Spot. NASA‘s Juno Proximity Jupiter Encounter is delivering extraordinary images of the most obvious feature of the giant planet: the big red spot visible on its surface.NASA Juno

Processing of raw images sent to Earth by the probe contributes many amateurs scattered all over the world.Earth 360

Humanity has just got its most beautiful images of the Great Red Spot Jupiter, a storm enough to swallow the entire Earth, which for centuries has crossed the giant planet’s atmosphere.Great Red Spot Jupiter

Taken at the beginning of the month by Juno’s ship, as big as a basketball court and powered by solar energy, new images shot from just 9,000 miles above Jupiter reveal the details of the Great Red Spot and its turbulent surroundings, which raise as many questions as many they solve it.Jupiter 360°

Scientists know that its form is generally anticyclonic, that is, it wraps up counterclockwise. They also know that it is much taller and cooler than most of the upper atmosphere of Jupiter: a better name would be a Great Cold Mud because it goes far beyond the surrounding clouds, expanding and cooling off. Like most of the clouds of Jupiter, it is rich in ammonia. What is still unknown is how it has survived so long, or to what extent it extends to Jupiter. In recent decades, for unknown reasons, it has become more circular than oval, prompting some researchers to suspect that it is on the point of dissecting. No one fully understands the origins of his reddish color. Although it has been studied for centuries by small telescopes on the ground, the spot has received its close plans in the second half of the twentieth century thanks to a progressive series of encounters close to the NASA Pioneer, Voyager, and Galileo probes as well as through a detailed monitoring. At a distance by the Hubble Space Telescope and other observers.Galileo mission

With every observation, the researchers gradually gained a deeper understanding of the dynamic nature of the storm and Jupiter, and the latest observations are no exception. The images of this week’s Great Red Spot are the best obtained so far and exceed those of Voyager. Although the improvement in resolution and quality is incremental, so it does not represent a big leap, it has passed a threshold that detects small waves and small clouds that project their shadow into the Great Red Spot and which had never been seen before. New observations will make great comparisons with what we saw with the Galileo probe 20 years ago and Voyager 20 years ago. We can certainly say that it evolved into twenty years, it is much more round, of course, but to attract my attention are the cutting changes in the inner structures of the cloud. There are more gorges and turmoil in the areas that were usually fully stretched in long bands. We will have to analyze these characteristics to understand how the Great Red Spot is changing over time. Some researchers are already speculating on the subtle shadows and color gradations in the spot, which new images suggest being more intense near its towering center. This could help validate a recent theory of its coloring, which suggests that red would be a sort of solar burn. Because they derive from ultraviolet light that bombs ammonia and traces of hydrocarbons in the higher layers of the Jupiter stratosphere, the shades of the spot would then be more intense where it reaches the highest level of the surrounding clouds.    The overall moral to be drawn from these new images is how much our previous visions were relatively short-sighted. We used the Hubble Space Telescope to monitor Jupiter in conjunction with Juno’s close encounter with the Great Red Spot. In Juno’s pictures, the areas with the most beautiful structure are the areas that seemed flat in the Hubble image.

As in a fractal, we see details at the limit of resolution, no matter what scale you observe. In the broader sense, these new views are a kind concession of Juno, which, launched in 2011, has entered polar orbit around Jupiter just over a year ago: their true origin is the most modest instrument of the probe, the JunoCam camera , Considered scientifically so irrelevant to obtain a reduced operational budget and be officially included only to raise public awareness. The limited resources have made JunoCam scientists rely on a small army of volunteer scientists who, using amateur telescopes, signal transitional characteristics in the Jedi atmosphere as points of interest for observation with the instrument. Each feature is given a fantasy name such as Mortyland, Hot Spot Tail, and Carl Sagan Jawbreaker. Because of the polar orbit that carries the probe incredibly close to the planet, most images of these features taken by JunoCam have an hourglass distortion due to glimpsed horizons; The colors are pale, the contours blurred by the clouds. The second group of amateurs extracts the most significant details from these rough images after Juno has sent them to Earth. Streaming on JunoCam’s web site, the best images they make are correcting distortion, improving color, and increasing contrast in a way that admits professionals. After the crisp images arrive I update my screen every five minutes, and every time I find more and more of these precious and precious products. These guys in particular – Gerald and Sean – provided pictures of Juno’s first Jupiter encounters that show all of these small storms of only 25 or 50 kilometers in width from the roof of clouds in the southern tropical area of the planet. Storms remind me a bit of the squall line of Earth weather images. And here I am, at the top of the Great Red Spot! They seem almost spumed … This is the kind of detail you get when you suddenly have enough resolution. I can not say what this means for atmospheric dynamics, but I’m sure it is important and that when we solve this dilemma, we will have a remarkable scientific result. For them, we use the adjective amateur in quotes, but they really know what they do and work for free. Eichstädt started collaborating with JunoCam in 2013 when he produced some Earth images captured by the instrument while the probe orbited around the Earth to gain enough speed to start Jupiter’s journey. Since then, he has been involved in developing a proprietary pipeline software to enhance JunoCam’s image, which requires careful calibration to remove noise due to faulty detector pixels as well as modeling variables such as the angle of illumination from the Sun, the absorption of light from the planet and the trajectory of the spacecraft. Sun 360°

Overall, he says, the routine takes a few hours to produce an elaborate image, and this leaves him a lot of time to reflect on the finer details that others may not notice. Among other things, Eichstädt noticed a small number of single bright pixels diffused inside and around his elaborate stain images. Those that have not been identified by my correction algorithm and are therefore probably not artifacts in the camera are collisions of energy particles from the intense Jupiter radiation environment, or if we had a lot of luck, lightning. Documented for the first time in Jupiter’s clouds as light bulbs widespread during Voyager 1 flying and observed decades later by the Galileo probe, Jupiter lightning could be an indirect index of the planet’s water content. Both Voyager and Galileo’s observations indicate that each lightning emerges from the depths of the atmosphere beneath Jupiter’s ammonia clouds, in regions where temperatures and pressures reach the triple point of water and the vortexing motions of steam, rain, and Hail cause immense accumulations of electric charge. Lightning, however, has never been observed in the spot, and Eichstädt is the first to say that his preliminary observations are just speculations that require much more detailed follow-up.

This will be later, with further Juno’s close observations, not just those of JunoCam but also those of the other eight instruments that can measure the temperature of the planet, its magnetic and gravitational fields the microwave emissions of its deep internal layers and more. Gravitational and microwave measurements, in particular, could soon reveal the extent of Jupiter’s downward slope, that is, whether floating like an iceberg at the top of the atmosphere, or whether it is projecting to the depths of the planet.

Over the next few years, the probe will be immersed in the Jupiter’s atmosphere, carrying the mission to a final fiery designed to avoid contaminating one of the frozen moons of the planet, which are of great interest to astrobiology. JunoCam may stop working much earlier, even in the autumn, due to the intense radiation present around the planet, support mission designers. But his legacy will last: Eichstädt, Doran and other image processing professionals say the best part of their work is yet to come.

Juno, extraordinary images of the Big Red Spot.



To open the video click on the image, good view from your Alessandro Brizzi.

Juno, extraordinary images of the Big Red Spot.