During the past several days, NASA has been rolling out the most detailed images of Jupiter we have ever seen. The Juno spacecraft made its closest flyby yet on August 27, 2016, managing to take some breathtaking pictures.
There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno’s mission (scheduled to end in February 2018). The August 27 flyby was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zoomed past.
Among other things, NASA caught a close glimpse of Jupiter’s north polar region. Unlike the equatorial region’s familiar structure of belts and zones, the poles are mottled with rotating storms of various sizes, similar to giant versions of terrestrial hurricanes. Jupiter’s poles have not been seen from this perspective since the Pioneer 11 spacecraft flew by the planet in 1974.
But the footage from the southern hemisphere is nothing to sneeze at either. Juno caught a rare view of the southern aurora of Jupiter, which can hardly be seen from Earth due to our home planet’s position in respect to Jupiter’s south pole. Juno’s unique polar orbit provides the first opportunity to observe this region of the gas-giant planet in detail. It even recorded the radio signals from the auroras, which you simply cannot skip: