Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 November 14
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Jupiter Portrait
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA

Explanation: Every day is a cloudy day on Jupiter, the Solar System's reigning gas giant. And swirling cloud tops are all you see in this stunningly detailed true color image, a portion of a large digital mosaic portrait of Jupiter recorded from the Cassini spacecraft during its Jovian flyby in December 2000. The smallest features visible are about 60 kilometers across. Jupiter's composition is dominated by hydrogen and the clouds contain hydrogen compounds like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and even water. A truly giant planet, Jupiter's diameter is over 11 times the diameter of Earth and the smallest storms visible in the Cassini Jupiter portrait are similar in size to large terrestrial hurricanes. Now traveling beyond Jupiter, the Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to reach the Saturnian system in July of 2004.

Tomorrow's picture: When Cosmic Winds Collide

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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& Michigan Tech. U.