But in the far reaches of the solar system, a plucky NASA spacecraft is drifting along, ready to upstage them all.
In February, NASA’s Jovian explorer, Juno, made its 18th close flyby of Jupiter, coming within 13,000 kilometers (approx. 8,000 miles) of its roiling clouds. The picture above was snapped by the spacecrafts JunoCam imager as Juno drifted over the northern hemisphere. The large brown spot to the left of the picture sits within the swirling air currents of a region known as Jet N6.
Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill plucked the image from JunoCam’s raw image database, color-enhancing the region of interest. The original image is below.
As Juno swings around Jupiter, it’s constantly snapping images of the gas giant like an overenthusiastic paparazzo. Since swinging into orbit in July 2016, Juno has spotted all sorts of captivating phenomena within Jupiter’s clouds — like a dolphin, Van Gogh paintings and a giant poo — and it even turned its cameras toward the Jovian moons.
Juno was originally scheduled to crash into Jupiter last year, but NASA extended the Y-shaped spacecraft’s mission until 2021, allowing it to swing around our solar system’s biggest planet for another two years.