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Jupiter's Red Spot stares down Io in new flyby pics

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The moon Io and Jupiter's Great Red Spot are visible in this Cassini enhanced-color image  
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(CNN) -- The most famous storm on Jupiter faces the moon Io in a new close-up image taken by a NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The probe also beamed back a high-resolution video of swirling clouds on the giant planet.

The image and movie, released this week by NASA, give new insights into the nature of violent storms that swirl along the outer edges of the largest planet in the solar system.

In the color-enhanced image of Jupiter and Io, the cloudy edges of the Red Spot contain more ammonia haze than the clearer center, according to scientists with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Io, the nearest large inner moon, is visible to the lower left. The whites and reds on the moon's surface indicate the presence of sulfurous substances. The blacks reveal silicate rocks. Io has more than 100 active volcanoes spewing hot lava and giant plumes of gas and dust.

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Watch Jupiter's cloud movement in this time-elapsed video  

Cassini snapped the new image earlier this month from a distance of 17.8 million miles (28.6 million km) while approaching Jupiter. It should fly to within 6 million miles (10 million km) of the gas giant on December 30. Cassini will get a boost from Jupiter's gravity as it continues toward its final destination: the Saturn system.

In the video, Jupiter's high-altitude clouds twist and turn in a time-elapsed clip made from Cassini pictures. Bright clouds are higher in the jovian atmosphere. In the short video, compiled in October, some small clouds brighten quickly, which possibly indicates powerful upward currents, like those in thunderstorms on Earth.

While near Jupiter, Cassini is conducting studies of the planet's atmosphere, rings and magnetic field in tandem with NASA's Galileo probe, which has orbited Jupiter for more than five years.



RELATED STORIES:
New revelations, riddles about solar system's most intriguing satellites
August 23, 2000
By the light of the fiery moon
June 28, 2000
Galileo spots new volcanoes on Io
June 1, 2000
Images reveal lakes, snow, geysers on Jupiter moon Io
May 19, 2000

RELATED SITES:
More Jupiter pics from JPL
Joint Cassini-Galileo study of Jupiter
Cassini imaging team, University of Arizona
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


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