This composite image shows a hot spot in Jupiter’s atmosphere. In the image on the left, taken on Sept. 16, 2020 by the Gemini North Telescope, the hot spot appears bright in the infrared at a wavelength of 5 microns.
NASA has authorized a mission extension for its Juno spacecraft exploring Jupiter. The agency’s most distant planetary orbiter will now continue its investigation of the solar system’s largest planet through September 2025, or until the spacecraft’s end of life. This expansion tasks Juno with becoming an explorer of the full Jovian system.
Twenty-five years ago, NASA sent history's first probe into the atmosphere of the solar system's largest planet. But the information returned by the Galileo probe during its descent into Jupiter caused head-scratching: The atmosphere it was plunging into was much denser and hotter than scientists expected.
This image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures several storms in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere (Figure A). Some of these storms, including the Great Red Spot at upper left, have been churning in the planet’s atmosphere for many years, but when Juno obtained this view of Jupiter, the smaller, oval-shaped feature at the center of the image was brand new.