They were taken by the Juno spacecraft.
No, you’re not looking at a painting or an optical illusion—the image of swirling blues, browns, and grays is a real (enhanced) photo of the planet Jupiter. NASA just shared some stunning photos of the planet captured by the Juno Spacecraft’s JunoCam.
Juno is a spacecraft that is currently orbiting Jupiter. According to NASA’s website, Juno’s principal goal “is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter,” which will in turn “provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.”
While Juno takes batches of photos every 53 days as it orbits Jupiter, these photos in particular are special because two citizen scientists, Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran, processed the raw photos to enhance the colors in the images. So even though Jupiter doesn't look quite this vivid in real life, viewers can see it in a different light.
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NASA encourages space enthusiasts to participate in Juno’s mission through its JunoCam page. Users can upload telescopic images of Jupiter, create and comment on points of interest in Jupiter’s atmosphere, vote on what you want JunoCam to capture, browse other users’ processed images and submit your own.
Take a look at some of the photos below.
Photos: NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran