six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Jason Snell

Gem of the solar system

You think you know a planet, and then you send a probe to orbit around its poles and this happens:

“We knew, going in, that Jupiter would throw us some curves,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “But now that we are here we are finding that Jupiter can throw the heat, as well as knuckleballs and sliders. There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter.”

The pictures of Jupiter from Juno, many created and enhanced by citizen scientists, are spectacular. And unlike anything we’ve seen before. As Nadia Drake writes at National Geographic:

“I love the way Jupiter’s poles look in our images—so beautiful and so very different from Saturn,” says Candy Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute. “We are so used to seeing Jupiter’s belts and zones. Not seeing that structure at all at the poles really threw me at first.”

Stormier and more colorful than neighboring Saturn, Jupiter is also so much bigger that it’s possible it’s being shaped by processes that are more star-like than planet-like, Bolton says.

It turns out Jupiter is more than just belts of color and the Great Red Spot. And a lot weirder than we thought.