NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Jupiter, snapped a dramatic image of the gas giant this month.
With some artistic aid from a human helper on Earth, the spacecraft’s image has turned out to be a visual masterpiece.
The color-enhanced image from Kevin M. Gill, a NASA software engineer who moonlights as one of the Juno’s many amateur image processors, shows a large circular storm trailed by clouds swirling in a jet stream in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere.
Juno has been in a highly elliptical orbit around Jupiter since 2016. The spacecraft captured this image on Feb. 12, during its 18th close pass of the planet, according to NASA. At the time, Juno was just 8,000 miles from Jupiter’s cloud tops.
Launched in 2011, Juno spent five years traveling to Jupiter from Earth. The mission seeks to map Jupiter’s interior and figure out how much water is inside the planet, among other goals. Scientists hope that by studying Jupiter, they will have a better understanding of how the planets formed.
NASA has made raw images from Juno available to the public online. The agency has been encouraging amateur astrophotographers to download and enhance the images before uploading them back to Juno’s website. Dozens of space enthusiasts have participated ― some by simply cropping the images and others by performing advanced color reconstruction or highlighting a particular atmospheric feature of the planet.
The enhanced images have been used in NASA reports for scientific journals, according to the agency.
NASA plans to end Juno’s mission in July 2021, at which point the spacecraft will self-destruct by hurling itself into Jupiter.
See some more of Gill’s color-enhanced images from Juno’s 18th close pass of Jupiter below.