JunoCam: The Little Outreach Camera Addressing Big Science

JunoCam returned this image of the southern hemisphere of Jupiter on Juno's 32nd close pass by the giant planet. Rita Najm processed the image and enhanced the color to bring out detail in Jupiter's dynamic atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Rita Najm © CC BY 

JunoCam’s close-up pictures of Jupiter’s storms are enabling scientists and amateurs, working together, to understand weather on Jupiter.

Three talks at the European Geophysical Union (EGU) conference showcased science results from JunoCam, the visible-light camera/telescope onboard NASA's Juno spacecraft that has orbited Jupiter since July 2016. JunoCam has provided a means for the public to participate in a space mission. PSI Senior Scientist Candy Hansen is responsible for leading the JunoCam investigation. She is very pleased that JunoCam images have given scientists and amateurs an opportunity to work together to understand Jupiter’s dynamic atmosphere.

Glenn Orton, a member of the Juno science team, presented a summary of the science investigations underway using JunoCam images. These topics include the pop-up clouds that are sprinkled along pressure ridges and outline circulation, Great Red Spot interactions with the smaller storms it encounters, and the behavior of circumpolar cyclones discovered by Juno.

Peio Iñurrigarro, a researcher at the University of Bilbao in Spain, discussed the formation and evolution of Clyde’s Spot, discovered by the amateur astronomer Clyde Foster in 2020. Two cyclones merged in 2019, then suddenly in May 2020 convection in the atmosphere driven by water vapor made the storm erupt into a high visible structure.  The combination of long-term monitoring from earth-based observatories with high resolution snapshots from JunoCam allowed the life story of this storm to be written, and expanded into understanding the evolution of other similar storms.

Gerald Eichstädt, one of the most important amateurs on JunoCam’s virtual imaging team, presented his analysis of the vorticity of storms at latitudes too far poleward to be studied by earth-based observers, with time-lapse image sequences enabled by Juno’s slow departure from Jupiter over the southern hemisphere.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS), a giant anticyclone in Jupiter's atmosphere, was imaged at high resolution by JunoCam on Juno's 31st close pass by Jupiter. These images show the inner structure of the GRS and, in conjunction with amateur images, the interaction of the GRS with other storms in its vicinity. Björn Jónsson processed the image and enhanced the color to bring out detail in the exquisite interaction of the GRS with its surroundings. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson © CC NC SA

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at https://missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing.  More information about NASA citizen science can be found at https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience and https://www.nasa.gov/solve/opportunities/citizenscience.

More information about Juno is at https://www.nasa.gov/juno and https://missionjuno.swri.edu.