NASA spacecraft captures its first 'frosted cupcake' clouds on Jupiter

Citizen scientists, in collaboration with astronomers, used NASA's Juno spacecraft to create the first 3D renders of 'frosted cupcake' clouds on Jupiter.

1 minute & 11 seconds read time

A worldwide team of citizen scientists collaborated with professional astronomers along with NASA's Juno team to create animations of Jupiter's cloud tops.

The team gathered data from NASA's JunoCam, which is the visible light camera that is located on NASA's Juno spacecraft that arrived in Jupiter's orbit in 2016. The Juno spacecraft was specifically equipped with JunoCam to spark more public interest in the exploration of Jupiter and its surrounding moons, and now the aforementioned citizen scientists, professional astronomers, and Juno team have demonstrated that the camera can be used for credible scientific operations.

Citizen scientist and professional mathematician and software engineer Gerald Eichstadt presented the results at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada. According to the software developer, the Juno mission provides researchers with an opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way that is "essentially inaccessible" by Earth-based telescopes and that researchers are able to capture the same cloud features from different angles within only a few minutes.

Furthermore, the team measured the different ways sunlight is reflected and scattered by clouds at various elevations, with clouds illuminating less sunlight being at lower altitudes and clouds illuminating lots of sunlight being in the upper atmosphere of the planet.

"From theoretical models, the clouds are expected to be composed of different chemical species, ammonia, ammonium hydrosulphide, and water ice from top to bottom. 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," added Dr. Eichstadt.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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