Space news

Stunning auroras and storms that would swallow Earth: see Jupiter like never before
By Ella Joyce | Current affairs | 23 August 2022

Webb NIRCam composite image of Jupiter. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Judy Schmidt.

Since launching in 2021, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has become integral to shedding new light on our solar system. Turning its lens toward Jupiter, the telescope’s latest intergalactic images capture the planet like never before, showing auroras, giant storms and moons in incredible detail. The international mission led by the US space agency with partners from both the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency will give scientists a deeper insight into Jupiter’s inner life and become the dominant force of discovery for the next twenty years.

Created using infrared technology and a composite of several images from the James Webb, the photographs were artificially coloured in blue, white, green, yellow and orange due to infrared light’s invisibility to the human eye. Enhancing unique features found on the surface, the planet’s infamous Great Red Spot – a storm so big it could swallow Earth – appears white in this newly captured view as it reflects a striking amount of sunlight. Meanwhile, auroras extend to high altitudes above both the northern and southern poles. Planetary astronomer Imke de Pater of the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement: “We’ve never seen Jupiter like this. It’s all quite incredible.”

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