A group of scientists recently used NASA’s Juno spacecraft to produce stunning 3D renders to simulate how Jupiter’s raging storms would appear from space. A short video, shared on YouTube by Europlanet, revealed delicately textured swirls and peaks that researchers said resembled the frosting top of a cupcake.
“This computer animation shows a flight over such a landscape for processed, red-filtered image data collected by JunoCam, the wide-angle visible light imager of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, during her 43rd close Jupiter flyby,” the caption of the post read.
Watch the video below:
According to Newsweek, citizen scientist and space image processor extraordinaire Gerald Eichstadt led the animation project. The researchers used JunoCam data to build digital elevation maps of cloud tops.
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“The Juno mission provides us with an opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way which is essentially inaccessible by Earth-based telescopic observations. We can look at the same cloud features from very different angles within only a few minutes,” Mr Eichstadt said in a Europlanet statement.
He presented the results of the project at the Europlanet Science Congress meeting in Granada. Mr Eichstadt also explained that this latest method has now opened up new opportunities to derive 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud tops. “The images of the wonderful chaotic storms on Jupiter seem to come to life, showing clouds rising at different altitudes,” he added.
The researchers believe that the digital model cloud could also help scientists refine their understanding of the chemical composition of the clouds. “Once we calibrate our data, thanks to other measurements of the same cloud tops, we will test and refine the theoretical predictions and have a better 3D picture of the chemical composition,” the citizen scientist said.
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Juno was launched in 2011. It has been exploring the gas giant since 2016. Circling the planet in a highly elliptical orbit, the probe completes one lap every 43 days. Earlier this year, Juno reached its point of closest approach to Jupiter, getting just over 3,300 kilometres above the planet’s cloud tops.
The spacecraft was originally scheduled to retire in 2021, but now Juno will continue its work until at least 2025.
Read More:Video Shows Incredible 3D Animation Of Jupiter’s “Frosted Cupcake” Clouds