The giant planet Jupiter, in all its banded glory, is revisited by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in these latest images, taken on January 5-6, 2024, capturing both sides of the planet. Hubble monitors Jupiter and the other outer solar system planets every year under the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy program (OPAL). This is because these large worlds are shrouded in clouds and hazes stirred up by violent winds, causing a kaleidoscope of ever-changing weather patterns.

[left image] - Big enough to swallow Earth, the classic Great Red Spot stands out prominently in Jupiter's atmosphere. To its lower right, at a more southerly latitude, is a feature sometimes dubbed Red Spot Jr. This anticyclone was the result of storms merging in 1998 and 2000, and it first appeared red in 2006 before returning to a pale beige in subsequent years. This year it is somewhat redder again. The source of the red coloration is unknown but may involve a range of chemical compounds: sulfur, phosphorus or organic material. Staying in their lanes, but moving in opposite directions, Red Spot Jr. passes the Great Red Spot about every two years. Another small red anticyclone appears in the far north.

[right image] - Storm activity also appears in the opposite hemisphere. A pair of storms: a deep red cyclone and a reddish anticyclone, appear to be next to each other at right of center. They look so red that at first glance, it looks like Jupiter skinned a knee. These storms are rotating in opposite directions, indicating an alternating pattern of high- and low-pressure systems. For the cyclone, there’s an upwelling on the edges with clouds descending in the middle, causing a clearing in the atmospheric haze.

The storms are expected to bounce past each other because their opposing clockwise and counterclockwise rotation makes them repel each other. "The many large storms and small white clouds are a hallmark of a lot of activity going on in Jupiter's atmosphere right now," said OPAL project lead Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

Toward the left edge of the image is the innermost Galilean moon, Io – the most volcanically active body in the solar system, despite its small size (only slightly larger than Earth's moon). Hubble resolves volcanic outflow deposits on the surface. Hubble's sensitivity to blue and violet wavelengths clearly reveals interesting surface features. In 1979 NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft discovered Io's pizza-like appearance and volcanism, to the surprise of planetary scientists because it is such a small moon. Hubble picked up where Voyager left off by keeping an eye on restless Io year by year.




About The Object
Object Name Jupiter
Object Description Planet
Distance On January 5th and 6th, 2024 Jupiter was 4.56 AU from Earth (about 424 million miles or 682 million km)
About The Data
Data Description The HST observations include those from program (A. Simon)
Instrument WFC3/UVIS
Exposure Dates Jan. 5-6, 2024
Filters F395N, F502N, F658N
About The Image
Color Info These images are a composite of separate exposures acquired by the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope. Several filters were used to sample medium wavelength ranges. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are: Blue: F395N, Green: F502N, Red: F631N
Compass Image A side-by-side image showing both faces of Jupiter on the black background of space. At the top, left corner of the left-hand image is the label Jupiter. Centered at the bottom is the label "January 5, 2024." Jupiter is banded in stripes of brownish orange, light gray, soft yellow, and shades of cream, punctuated with many large storms and small white clouds. The largest storm, the Great Red Spot, is the most prominent feature in the left bottom third of this view. To its lower right is a smaller reddish anticyclone, Red Spot Jr. On the right-hand image, centered at the bottom is the label "January 6, 2024." This opposite side of Jupiter is also banded in stripes of brownish orange, light gray, soft yellow, and shades of cream, with many large storms and small white clouds punctuating the planet. At upper right of center, a pair of storms appear next to each other: a deep-red, triangle-shaped cyclone and a reddish anticyclone. Toward the far-left edge of this view is Jupiter's tiny orange-colored moon Io.
About The Object
Object Name A name or catalog number that astronomers use to identify an astronomical object.
Object Description The type of astronomical object.
R.A. Position Right ascension – analogous to longitude – is one component of an object's position.
Dec. Position Declination – analogous to latitude – is one component of an object's position.
Constellation One of 88 recognized regions of the celestial sphere in which the object appears.
Distance The physical distance from Earth to the astronomical object. Distances within our solar system are usually measured in Astronomical Units (AU). Distances between stars are usually measured in light-years. Interstellar distances can also be measured in parsecs.
Dimensions The physical size of the object or the apparent angle it subtends on the sky.
About The Data
Data Description
  • Proposal: A description of the observations, their scientific justification, and the links to the data available in the science archive.
  • Science Team: The astronomers who planned the observations and analyzed the data. "PI" refers to the Principal Investigator.
Instrument The science instrument used to produce the data.
Exposure Dates The date(s) that the telescope made its observations and the total exposure time.
Filters The camera filters that were used in the science observations.
About The Image
Image Credit The primary individuals and institutions responsible for the content.
Publication Date The date and time the release content became public.
Color Info A brief description of the methods used to convert telescope data into the color image being presented.
Orientation The rotation of the image on the sky with respect to the north pole of the celestial sphere.