New Jupiter Image from NASA Juno Mission Shows Incredible Blue Cloud Tops

A striking new photo shows the beautiful hues of Jupiter’s clouds, swirling around on the gas-giant planet. The NASA image—taken on December 16—was released by the space agency on Thursday.

Similar to other photos of the planet—which can understandably be mistaken for an oil painting—the new photo shows once again just how mesmerizing Jupiter really is. The planet fills the entire image, in what appears to be a close-up shot, but was actually taken from nearly 8,300 miles away, according to a statement from NASA. The scale of the photograph is 5.8 miles per pixel.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran used raw images from the JunoCam imager—the name of the camera attached to the Juno spacecraft—and processed them into beautiful, color-enhanced pictures. In real life, the cloud tops aren’t actually blue, the image enhancement just makes them appear this way, Space.com reports.

1_5_Jupiter NASA An image of Jupiter's turbulent clouds captured by the Juno spacecraft. NASA/JunoCam

Related: NASA Took Our Breath Away in 2017, From the Total Solar Eclipse to Jupiter's Beautiful Great Red Spot

“We specifically designed the [JunoCam] to get pictures of the polar regions of Jupiter,” Candy Hansen, a co-investigator of JunoCam, said in a video. “We’ve had a number of spacecrafts that have flown past Jupiter and taken pictures, taken movies, but they have always been in the equatorial plane and so this mission is the first one that we really get up over the polar regions.”

“All of our pictures are of the cloud tops. Jupiter is a ball of gas and all we will see are clouds,” Hansen explained.

Juno was launched in 2011 and landed on Jupiter in 2016. The goal of the billion dollar mission is to teach those back on Earth about the unknowns of the largest planet in our solar system. More specifically, it’s sought to better understand things like how much water is in its atmosphere and how its magnetosphere functions, according to NASA.

Related: Jupiter Jet Stream: NASA Figures Out How Gravity Waves Reverse Mysterious Streams

Recently, the spacecraft discovered that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is much deeper than scientists previously thought.

“One of the most basic questions about Jupiter's Great Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?” Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement. “Juno data indicate that the solar system's most famous storm is almost one-and-a-half Earths wide, and has roots that penetrate about 200 miles (300 kilometers) into the planet's atmosphere.”

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