Clouds over Jupiter
December 16, 2004
This image is one of seven from the narrow-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft assembled as a brief movie of cloud movements on Jupiter. It was taken with a blue filter. The smallest features visible are about 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) across.
Small bright clouds appear suddenly to the west of the Great Red Spot. Based on data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, scientists suspect that these small white features are lightning storms, where falling raindrops create an electrical charge. The lightning storms eventually merge with the Red Spot and surrounding jets, and may be the main energy source for these large-scale features. Imaging observations of the dark side of the planet in the weeks following Cassini's closest approach to Jupiter on Dec. 30, 2000 will search for lightning storms like these.
This image was re-projected by cylindrical-map projection of an image taken in the first week of October 2000. It shows an area from 50 degrees north of Jupiter's equator to 50 degrees south, extending 100 degrees east-west, about one quarter of Jupiter's circumference.
Cassini is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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