These color composite frames of the mid-section of Jupiter were of narrow angle images acquired on December 31, 2000, a day after Cassini's closest approach to the planet. The smallest features in these frames are roughly ~ 60 kilometers. The left is natural color, composited to yield the color that Jupiter would have if seen by the naked eye. The right frame is composed of 3 images: two were taken through narrow band filters centered on regions of the spectrum where the gaseous methane in Jupiter's atmosphere absorbs light, and the third was taken in a red continuum region of the spectrum, where Jupiter has no absorptions. The combination yields an image whose colors denote the height of the clouds. Red regions are deep water clouds, bright blue regions are high haze (like the blue covering the Great Red Spot). Small, intensely bright white spots are energetic lightning storms which have penetrated high into the atmosphere where there is no opportunity for absorption of light: these high cloud systems reflect all light equally. The darkest blue regions -- for example, the long linear regions which border the northern part of the equatorial zone, are the very deep "hot spots', seen in earlier images, from which Jovian thermal emission is free to escape to space. This is the first time that global images of Jupiter in all the methane and attendant continuum filters have been acquired by a spacecraft. From images like these, the stratigraphy of Jupiter's dynamic atmosphere will be determined.
Source: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Published: January 23, 2001