NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured an interesting image of a pearl-like storm on Jupiter.
The image shows the seventh such storm in a sequence of eight. What you’re seeing is a massive counterclockwise rotating storm that appears as a white oval.
This storm is located in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, seen on December 11 as Juno made its third flyby of Jupiter at a distance of 24,600 kilometers (15,300 miles).
“Since 1986, these white ovals have varied in number from six to nine,” NASA said in a statement. “There are currently eight white ovals visible.”
These ovals can survive in Jupiter’s atmosphere for decades, but currently no one is quite sure how Jupiter can hang onto its storms for so long. Their age is much less than Jupiter’s most famous storm, though, the Great Red Spot has persisted for more than 400 years.
The white ovals travel in circular belts around Jupiter, but can interact and cause chaotic regions. And they can be huge, some measuring up to 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) across – three-quarters the size of Earth.
Juno is going to be studying Jupiter until February 2018, completing 37 orbits in total. Using its instruments, scientists hope to study Jupiter’s interior, measure its water content, and also continue taking stunning images like this.
In fact, if you want to get involved, you can even vote on what you’d like Juno to image next.
Here’s the image from Juno in full. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS