Nasa releases glorious close up of Jupiter captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

The resulting photograph shows the turbulent atmosphere of Jupiter, with colourful bands of that are parallel to the equator.

The Hubble space telescope normally looks at the light from distant stars and peers back into the depths of time. In early April, the Sun, Earth and Jupiter were in a straight line, with the Earth being in perfect position to observe the gas giant as it was lit up by the Sun. Astronomers used the opportunity to turn the Hubble space telescope towards Jupiter, and image the planet with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. The Hubble space telescope is a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency.


Image: Nasa/Hubble

The resulting photograph shows the turbulent atmosphere of Jupiter, with colourful bands that are parallel to the equator. The bands have alternating high speed winds, that can reach speeds up to 644 kilometers an hour. The great red spot, a seemingly perpetual anticyclone the size of the Earth, that has been raging for over a hundred and fifty years can be seen along with a number of other, smaller storms.

The high resolution images shows features that are as small as 129 kilometers across. Jupiter was relatively close to the Earth at the time the image was captured, at only 667,000,000 kilometers away. Juno, a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter was at its closest approach to the planet when Hubble took the photograph, so scientists could observe the planet using both the imaging instruments at once. The Hubble Space telescope famously observed Jupiter during the crash of the comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 into the gas giant. Recently, Hubble was able to image jets of water spouting out of the Jovian moon, Europa, confirming the existance of a global sub surface ocean.

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