NASA’s Juno spacecraft has taken a perplexing picture of Jupiter, showing an “intensely dark vortex” swirling across its volatile surface. Juno took the image of the unexplainable black hole during its 20th flyby of the planet late last month, when the NASA spacecraft was almost 10,000 miles distant from Jupiter. The mysterious maelstrom seen swirling at the Jovian Jet Stream’s epicentre has baffled even the brightest brains at the US space agency.
NASA released this digitally-enhanced image of the ominous eddy spinning in Jupiter’s jet stream.
The vortex is ringed by high-altitude clouds that have “puffed up into the sunlight”, NASA said in a statement.
NASA added: “Our Juno spacecraft captured this view of an area within a Jovian jet stream showing a vortex that has an intensely dark centre. “
NASA scientists Sean Doran and Gerald Eichstadt made the image using data from Juno’s JunoCam imager and dramatically dubbed it “Jupiter’s Abyss”.
The photograph was taken when Juno was about 9,200 miles (14,800 km) over Jupiter at approximately 52 degrees north latitude.
NASA space probe Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, having undertaken a five-year cruise to the planet.
No previous spacecraft has orbited so close to the solar system’s largest planet, although NASA has sent two others to plunge to their destruction through the gas giant’s atmosphere.
To complete its important mission, Juno survived a circuit-frying radiation storm created by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.
The NASA spacecraft is now more than halfway through its extended mission to study Jupiter’s atmosphere and deep interior.
NASA continued: “Using NASA’s eyes on the solar system and simulated data from the Juno flight team you can ride onboard the Juno spacecraft in real-time at any moment during the entire mission.”
Scientists last May detected on Jupiter a changing magnetic field on a planet other than our Earth.
This breakthrough will aid NASA researchers better understand how planets’ magnetic field alter over time.
The scientists discovered changes in Jupiter’s magnetic field when they compared the latest data with data from earlier NASA missions.
NASA wrote in an Instagram post: “A beautiful abyss. This view of an area within a Jovian jet stream includes a vortex with an intensely dark centre.
“Nearby, other features display bright, high altitude clouds that have puffed up into the sunlight.
“NASA’s Juno took this colour-enhanced image on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science flyby of Jupiter.
“Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran created this image using data from the JunoCam imager.”