In this view of a vortex near Jupiter’s north pole, NASA’s Juno mission observed flashes of lightning. On Earth, lightning originates from water clouds, and occurs most often near the equator, while on Jupiter lightning also occurs in clouds containing an ammonia-water solution, and is often seen near the poles.
In the coming months, Juno’s orbits will bring it closer to Jupiter again and again as the spacecraft passes through the night side of the giant planet, giving Juno’s suite of science instruments even more opportunities to capture lightning.
Juno captured this view on December 30, 2020, when it completed its 31st close flyby of Jupiter. In 2022, citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed the image from raw data from the Junocam instrument on the spacecraft. At the time the original image was taken, Juno was about 19,900 miles (32,000 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops, at about 78 degrees latitude as it approaches the planet.
Source images from JunoGame are available to the public https://missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing. More information about NASA’s citizen science can be found here https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience And https://www.nasa.gov/solve/opportunities/citizenscience.
More information about Juno is available here https://www.nasa.gov/juno And https://missionjuno.swri.edu. For more on this discovery and other scientific results, see https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/science-findings.
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