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Space Photos of the Week: The Chronicles of Jupiter

In November 1974, Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft on Earth to visit Jupiter. Humans have probably been fascinated by this bright spot in the sky since we began looking toward the sky, and our oldest astronomical records show regular sightings of this vast planet. Then in early 17th-century Italy, Galileo built his telescope and identified Jovian's tapes with four moving points. These are the moons of Io, Europe, Ganymede and Callisto.

Includes 383 Earth masses, Jupiter is the largest member of the solar system, and NASA has sent five missions to investigate it. However, a difficult planet to visit: In addition to our Sun, Jupiter has the largest magnetic field in the solar system. Such an extreme radiation environment can easily fry life-sustaining electronics that approach it ("close" here means millions of miles). This magnetic field is so large, in fact, that if you can see it in visible light, it will look like the size of a full moon in our sky ̵

1; even though the giant planet itself is about 500 miles from Earth. [19659002] This week we will mark, along with several different space missions, to Jupiter, taking its majesty from all angles and in unprecedented detail.

One of the first images of the Pioneer 11 is of Jupiter and its North Pole. (This is a slow angle, so the north pole ends at the bottom of the photo.) The terminator – the line between Jovian day and night – also crosses this entire polar region. When Pioneer snapped this picture, the spacecraft was just beginning to use gravity assistance from Jupiter to sling to Saturn. Bonus: The quality of the retro image gives these emblematic bands a somber vibe from the 70's. Photo: NASA Ames
Flash forward to 2016 The powerful Hubble Space Telescope in orbit around Earth takes an amazingly detailed look at the same planet: You can see its awesome bands, the iconic Big Red Spot and the smaller individual storms. The disco party at the North Pole is an aurora, similar to the Earth's disco – created when highly charged particles of the Sun collide in Jupiter's magnetic field. Photo: NASA / ESA / J. Nichols (University of Leicester)
Just a few years after Pioneer 11 launched its initial reconnaissance mission, NASA launched the Voyager twin spacecraft solar system. When Voyager 2 arrived in Jupiter (well, it was about 8 million miles away), here's one of the pictures he took. It shows the planet and Io, its smallest and closest Galilean moon (named since Galileo discovered four of them). Yo is covered in volcanoes and is the same size as our own rocky satellite. Photo: JPL
NASA's Juno Spacecraft orbits the planet Jupiter every 52 days; Its orbit is elliptical, swings close and then rotates backwards. Last June, Juneau approached and snapped this dizzying image of the planet and its seemingly endless storms. Scientists have always known that Jupiter hosts the most puzzling storms in the solar system, but it turns out that some Jovian storms are invisible to the naked eye. Using his infrared camera, Juno uncovers layer after layer of cyclones, a hint that the forces behind these storm surges may be more complex than originally thought. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Kevin M. Gill
The Juno spacecraft is in polar orbit around Jupiter, which means that it flies over the north pole , then suffers below the south pole. These two active regions are of great interest to the scientific community because of the high concentrations of cyclones and other storms prevalent in the region. These storms have slightly different mechanics than their kind on Earth for three reasons: The planet is a gas giant and huge; the atmospheric pressure of its "surface" is almost three times that of Earth; and the atmosphere is predominantly hydrogen and helium, rather than the oxygen and nitrogen that surrounds our solid little planet. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gabriel Fisset
Usually dressed in tans and creams, Jupiter is falsely colored here in a rose by Juneau, which allows us to notice a rather interesting feature. , Look in the center of the image and you will see an elongated lump of white clouds. These are upper clouds of the atmosphere that no one has ever seen in Jupiter's atmosphere until Juno appears. Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Matt Brealey / Gustavo B C

Ready to go beyond Jupiter? Browse the entire collection of outer space here.

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