Sweet Sixteen: Jupiter in Motion

This video, made up of 16 images assembled from Voyager 1 data by astro-artist Björn Jónsson and animated by Ian Regan, shows a time period spanning 16 Jupiter days (about 7 days Earth-time) wherein we can briefly observe the dynamics of the different cloud belts and spinning storms in the gas giant’s swirling atmosphere. Especially prominent is the Great Red Spot, a monstrous hurricane in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere three times the size of Earth and over 300 years old. Very cool!

The video is somewhat true-color, although a bit washed-out because Voyager 1’s CCD cameras were not calibrated to detect the color red as our eyes would see it…since Jupiter’s atmosphere has a lot of red in it, the closest approximation to that hue in the image data received is a less intense orange coloration. In other words, Jupiter would actually look a lot more vibrant to the human eye.

Click the video to watch on YouTube and read more about how it was assembled. Great work, guys!! (And be sure to try it in 720p, full-screen too!)

Voyager 1 was launched in September of 1977 and made its closest pass by Jupiter on March 5, 1979. Completing its Jovian encounter in April, Voyager 1 sent back almost 19,000 images of the giant planet and its moons before continuing on to pass by Saturn. It is now the most distant active spacecraft – and man-made object – still sending back data from the edge of the solar system nearly 11 billion miles away.

Credit: NASA / JPL / Björn Jónsson / Ian Regan. Thanks to Emily Lakdawalla for the video.