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Dive into Jupiter’s gas vortices in 3D

The images of the storms which agitate the atmosphere of Jupiter are legion. But those offered to us today by researchers are not quite like the others. A 3D view of clouds shaped like cupcake icing.

Swirling clouds. Storms of crazy dimensions. Astronomers have already observed many of them on Jupiter. But the view of the atmosphere of the largest planet in our solar system offered to us today by Gerald Eichstädt, a mathematician from the University of Würzburg (Germany), is unprecedented. A 3D animation that reveals a texture of swirls that looks just like the frosting of a cupcake!

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The animation was created using data from the JunoCam, an instrument on board the Juno mission (Nasa) which observes Jupiter in visible light. The JunoCam was designed to provide the public with images of the planet that could make them dream. But citizen scientists have believed in its ability to return data of interest for research as well.

Better understand the chemical composition of Jupiter’s clouds

The Juno mission has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. And it should continue to collect crucial information about the gaseous planet until 2025. Crucial because it offers the opportunity to observe Jupiter like no telescope can. from Earth. In just a few minutes, for example, Juno can return images of the same cloud formation from different angles.

Adding to this the fact that the higher the clouds are in the planet’s atmosphere, the more intense their illumination by the Sun, the researchers were able to build 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud tops. And almost giving life to the magnificent storms that agitate its atmosphere. What potentially help scientists to study the detail of the distribution of elements in the heart of these clouds. Soon, maybe also get a 3D image of their chemical composition.