Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!
Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is
featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 June 26

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.



Jupiter’s Clouds from New Horizons
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI

Explanation: The New Horizons spacecraft took some stunning images of Jupiter on its way out to Pluto.
Famous for its
Great Red Spot, Jupiter is also known for its regular, equatorial cloud bands,
visible through even modest sized telescopes.
The featured image, horizontally compressed, was taken in 2007 near Jupiter’s terminator and shows the Jovian giant’s wide diversity of cloud patterns. On the far left are clouds closest to Jupiter’s South Pole. Here turbulent whirlpools and swirls are seen in a dark region,
dubbed a belt, that rings the planet. Even light colored regions, called zones, show tremendous structure, complete with complex wave patterns. The energy that drives these waves surely comes from below. New Horizons
is the fastest space probe
ever launched, has successfully complete its main flyby of Pluto in 2015, and is now heading further out and on track to flyby Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69 in 2019.
In the near term, many space enthusiasts excitedly await Juno‘s arrival at Jupiter next Monday.

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Tomorrow’s picture: over the horizon


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Authors & editors:
Robert Nemiroff
(MTU) &
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman
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& Michigan Tech. U.

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