Mental Floss

The Highest-Resolution Thermal Images of Jupiter Yet

Shaunacy Ferro

ESO/L. Fletcher

Next week, on July 4, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter, thrusting itself into orbit around the solar system’s largest planet. At the Royal Astronomical Society’s annual meeting yesterday, June 27, University of Leicester planetary scientist Leigh Fletcher debuted some of the highest-resolution images yet of what awaits Juno. The false-color thermal infrared images show temperatures, weather, and cloud patterns in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which makes up the majority of the planet. They came from observations made with the VISIR thermal imager at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Infrared versus visible light views of Jupiter. Image credit: ESO/L.N. Fletcher/Damian Peach

In addition to the data Juno begins to send back home, the thermal observations will help scientists understand Jupiter’s atmosphere and weather. For more on NASA’s Jupiter exploration, check back later this week for our detailed coverage of the Juno mission.