NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures photo of lightning glow on Jupiter during close fly-by of gas giant world


NASA has begun to release photos taken by the spacecraft Juno during its 31st close flyby of Jupiter in late 2020. 

A photo released Thursday shows a vortex near the gas giant’s north pole with an observable glow from a bolt of lightning. 

The agency noted that lightning bolts on Jupiter, much like they do on Earth, occur in clouds containing an ammonia-water solution and are seen most often near the poles. 

The lightning photo was captured as Juno was completing its 31st close flyby of Jupiter on Dec. 30, 2020. Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill processed the image from raw data from the JunoCam instrument aboard the spacecraft in 2022. 


When the lightning photo was taken, the spacecraft was nearly 20,000 miles above Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of 78 degrees while approaching the planet. 

Juno’s orbits will move closer to Jupiter in the coming months as the spacecraft passes over the giant planet’s nightside, NASA said. 

Juno has performed more than 50 flybys of Jupiter and flown more than 510 million miles. It arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, with the first science flyby occurring 53 days later.

Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report. 


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