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The processed images from Juno are spectacular, but they don’t resemble previous images of Jupiter. Why are they so different from those returned by earlier missions?

Rick Kelley
Hilo, Hawaii

ScreenShot20180725at3.37.20PM
Dramatic sweeps of clouds and intricate features make Jupiter look like a whole new planet in this JunoCam image of the planet’s southern hemisphere. JunoCam can image Jupiter at resolutions nearly 10 times that of previous spacecraft, reaching resolutions of 2 miles (3 km) per pixel at closest approach to the planet near Jupiter’s equator, and 31 miles (50 km) per pixel over the poles.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt
There are several reasons why the JunoCam images of Jupiter look so different. One of them is the perspective from Juno: The spacecraft is in a polar orbit, so images taken at high latitudes and near the poles are not foreshortened, as they are in Earth-based images (and those from previous spacecraft). That’s why the turbulent regions at high latitudes look so stunning. JunoCam’s images are also at a higher resolution than those taken before.

Another reason is JunoCam’s wide field of view, which spans 58°. So instead of capturing a mere snippet of the planet, we see an entire swath of swirling clouds at high resolution in every image.

Candice Hansen 
Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute, 
and Co-Principal Investigator of JunoCam, 
Ivins, Utah
 


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