Now the Webb Telescope has captured images showing its giant storms, auroras and faint rings in greater detail.
‘We’ve never seen Jupiter like this. It’s all incredible,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. “We didn’t really expect it to be this good, to be honest,” she added in a statement.
De Pater led the observations of Jupiter with Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration. The photos were taken in July and released Monday by NASA, which called they called “giant news from a gigantic planet.”
NASA unveils first images of James Webb Space Telescope
“It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter along with its rings, small satellites and even galaxies in one image,” de Pater said in the statement.
The $10 billion telescope is named after James E. Webb, who led the then fledgling US space agency from 1961 to 1968. The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA, along with the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency, and was launched in 2021.
In July, NASA released the first batch of color images and data obtained by the revolutionary telescope, revealing a glittering cosmic show of colliding galaxies and a dying star, capturing hearts and imaginations on Earth.
The two images, composites of different images of Webb released this week of Jupiter, were taken by the telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera, which has special infrared filters that show details of the planet. Because infrared light is invisible to the human eye, the images were artificially colored to translate them into the visible spectrum and make Jupiter’s features stand out, NASA said. The images have been processed by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt.
Unlike Earth, Jupiter has no solid surface and is instead a gas giant, made primarily of hydrogen and helium. It is thought to have the same basic ingredients as a star, but never grew big enough to ignite. It also has several rings, but unlike Saturn’s, they are fainter and made of space dust rather than ice.
In a wide-angle view, the new images show Jupiter with its faint rings and two small moons called Amalthea and Adrastea.
“This one image summarizes the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings and its satellite system,” said astronomer Fouchet.
Take a cosmic tour of the images captured by NASA’s Webb telescope
Jupiter, where a day lasts about 10 hours, has at least 50 moons. The four largest are mentioned: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto were first observed by the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei in 1610.
The images also capture Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot, which appears white in the photos because it reflects sunlight, NASA says. The Great Red Spot is actually a gigantic storm bigger than Earth, which has been raging for centuries.
In a seemingly renewed era of space exploration, NASA also said earlier this month that it had identified 13 candidate landing areas on Earth’s moon as it prepares to send astronauts back there as part of its Artemis program.
It will be the first mission to return the crew to the lunar surface since Apollo in 1969 and will Involving the first woman and person of color to set foot on the moon.
Meanwhile, an audio clip NASA shared this weekend of what it called the remixed sounds of a black hole sparked awe. The audio has been edited to be heard and amplified by humans, but NASA said the sound, which comes from a cluster of galaxies some 240 million light-years away, defies the misconception that there is no sound in space.
The misconception that there is no sound in space stems from the fact that most space is a vacuum, which prevents sound waves from traveling. A cluster of galaxies contains so much gas that we have actually picked up sound. Here it is amplified and mixed with other data to hear a black hole! pic.twitter.com/RobcZs7F9e
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) August 21, 2022