Magnificent "Voyager of the Moons" GIF from Cassini's images from Jupiter and Saturn

Kevin M. Gill, a software engineer and data wrangler at NASA-JPL, created the fantastic video below "using still images taken by the Cassini spacecraft during it's flyby of Jupiter and while at Saturn.

"Shown is Io and Europa over Jupiter's Great Red Spot and then Titan as it passes over Saturn and it's edge-on rings," Gill wrote on Flickr.

image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/CICLOPS/Kevin M. Gill Read the rest

Five-story-high spikes of ice could make it difficult to land on Jupiter moon

Jupiter's frozen moon Europa has a massive ocean below the surface that could potentially harbor life. To find out, NASA is in the early stages of building a robotic lander to explore the moon in the mid-2020s. Now though, Cardiff University researcher Daniel Hobley and colleagues suggest that touching down on Europa could be tricky due to fields of massive ice spikes jutting up as high as 50 feet. From Science:

Such spikes are created on Earth in the frigid tropical peaks of the Andes Mountains, where they are called “penitentes,” for their resemblance to devout white-clad monks. First described by Charles Darwin, penitentes are sculpted by the sun in frozen regions that experience no melt; instead, the fixed patterns of light cause the ice to directly vaporize, amplifying minute surface variations that result in small hills and shadowed hollows. These dark hollows absorb more sunlight than the bright peaks around them, vaporizing down further in a feedback loop.

From the research paper in the scientific journal Nature:

We estimate that penitentes on Europa could reach 15 m in depth with a spacing of 7.5 m near the equator, on average, if they were to have developed across the interval permitted by Europa’s mean surface age. Although available images of Europa have insufficient resolution to detect surface roughness at the multi-metre scale, radar and thermal data are consistent with our interpretation. We suggest that penitentes could pose a hazard to a future lander on Europa.

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These are not paintings of Jupiter

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran amped up the color and contrast of images of Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere as captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft. Below, for, um, comparison, Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" (1889) and Edvard Munch's "The Scream" (1893).

More of Eichstädt and Doran's stunning work here.

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NASA's Juno captures more stunning Jupiter photos

As Juno continues its mission, NASA released new color-enhanced images, like this massive storm in the northern hemisphere. Read the rest

Juno's beautiful new images of Jupiter

NASA's Sean Doran posted a new set of Jupiter shots imaged by the Juno probe, and they're stunning: "What a blimmin' gorgeous/diabolical planet. Smörgåsbord"

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Juno's breathtaking images of Jupiter

The Juno probe is recording incredible image data of Jupiter. Not least are the new aurora studies that are shaking up what we know of the planet's extreme weather systems. But it's the sheer painterly beauty of the world, up-close, that is most breathtaking. And then there's actual paintings, too... Read the rest

Astounding close-up image of Jupiter's Giant Red Spot

NASA's Juno probe just completed the closest ever flyby of Jupiter's Giant Red Spot. The above is a processed version of an image created by Gerald Eichstädt from the Juno imaging data. Juno was passing about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the Red Spot. See many more images here. From NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

The Great Red Spot is a 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm that has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be shrinking...

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet's cloud tops -- as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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Time-lapse of Juno's Jupiter fly-by

Composited by Sean Doran from images taken by NASA's Juno probe.

Previously: Jupiter's south pole. Read the rest

The south pole of Jupiter

From Nasa's Juno probe:

This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection.

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NASA’s Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

Astronomers working with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope have captured images of what might be water vapor plumes erupting from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. “This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes,” reports NASA. “ The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.” Read the rest

NASA's Juno to Soar Closest to Jupiter This Saturday

An update on the Juno mission, from NASA. Read the rest

Juno probe sends first Jupiter pic back to Earth

Having successfully slipped into orbit around Jupiter, Juno sent its first image back to Earth.

NASA on Tuesday released an image taken by the satellite on Sunday from a distance of 2.7 million miles; it even shows the Great Red Spot, though the famous storm has been shrinking in recent decades and may not be as great as it once was.

“We’re quite pleased that we survived going through Jupiter orbit insertion,” said Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, a scientist at Planetary Science Institute in Tucson who is responsible for the operation of the camera. “The fact it’s a beautiful image is

already a good thing.”

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NASA's Juno is about to reach Jupiter after a 5-year journey. I visited JPL before the big show.

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The cloud-tops of Jupiter

Shot by New Horizons on its way out of town. [NASA, via]

This picture provides a vivid illustration that Jupiter's atmosphere has more color contrast than any other atmosphere in the solar system, including Earth's. Data obtained from these and other New Horizons images taken during the encounter will provide valuable insight into the processes occurring on this gas giant.

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'Jupiter: Into the Unknown', a NASA Juno Mission Trailer

“Get some popcorn. This July 4, we're going to Jupiter.” Read the rest

NASA’s Juno spacecraft will brave Jupiter’s fireworks this 4th of July for Science

On July 4, NASA plans to fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops. It's part of the JUNO mission, and Boing Boing plans to cover the big event live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory——so, watch this space, because we are fascinated by all things space. Read the rest

The closest I'll get to Jupiter is this JPL clean room

Hey Jupiter, I hope you're ready for your close-up.

Recently, I was granted the rare privilege of stepping inside one of the largest cleanrooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I was there to learn about this year's blockbuster space mission, Juno, and chat with some super smart science and engineering people who worked on the project. Read the rest

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