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Cassini captures the many faces of Jupiter

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Cassini views of Jupiter (Reload page to replay animation)  

(CNN) -- A probe traveling through deep space conducted an extensive photo shoot of Jupiter, documenting the changing appearance of the gas giant as it turned more than one full rotation, NASA said this week.

The true-color images reveal swirling storms, ammonia ice clouds and the famed Great Red Spot, a turbulent cloud system that could easily swallow two Earths, as Jupiter turned more than 360 degrees. The planet is the largest in the solar system but sprints through a full rotation in only 10 hours, less than half the time taken by Earth.

Obtained October 22 and 23, the images in sequence show a global weather pattern in some ways like the one on Earth: strong winds blowing eastward at some latitudes and westward at others. The equatorial zone on Jupiter is currently bright white, indicating the presence of clouds like cirrus clouds on Earth but composed of ammonia instead of water ice.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

The equatorial zone looks much different than in the recent past. Twenty years ago it had more of a brownish appearance like the region just to its north.

Another new Cassini image, taken through an infrared filter, spots one of Jupiter's large moons, Europa, shining brightly as it orbits in front of the planet.

Later this year the Cassini spacecraft will conduct joint studies with an elder NASA probe in the vicinity, Galileo, and fly to within 10 million kilometers (6 million miles) of Jupiter on December 30. Afterward, Cassini will head to its final destination, Saturn.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Cassini and Galileo missions for NASA.



RELATED STORIES:
The Cassini Mission
New revelations, riddles about solar system's most intriguing satellites
August 23, 2000
Galileo, Cassini to study Jupiter in joint expedition
March 9, 2000
Observatory reveals storms on Neptune, oceans on Titan
January 18, 2000

RELATED SITES:
NASA
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Cassini


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