NASA’s Juno spacecraft has recently captured a fascinating image of an odd-shaped cloud in the shape of a giant dolphin, swimming through the cloud bands along the South Temperate Belt of Jupiter.
The image was taken on October 29, 2018, during Juno’s 16th close flyby of the gas giant, at a distance of just 11,400 miles from its cloudy exterior. While most dolphins are typically around eight feet long, this one captured by Juno is thousands of kilometers in length, making it the biggest dolphin in the solar system.
The image was discovered by citizen scientists Brian Swift and Seán Doran, who were browsing through Juno’s archives. NASA has since shared the image with the public, encouraging them to download, enhance, process and share their own takes on Juno’s photos.
With this approach, members of the public can join in on the excitement of space exploration and contribute to scientific research. Juno’s mission began on August 5, 2011, with its launch towards Jupiter, and has so far traveled 146 million miles since entering the planet’s orbit.
The spacecraft is designed to study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere, among other things, to gain a better understanding of the gas giant and its role in the formation of our solar system.
The discovery of the giant dolphin in Jupiter’s clouds is just one of the many fascinating images captured by Juno, and it highlights the incredible beauty and mystery of our universe. As we continue to explore the vastness of space, we are sure to encounter more intriguing phenomena that inspire us to ask new questions and expand our understanding of the cosmos.