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Jupiter's Clouds from Cassini

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Jupiter's Clouds from Cassini

Gas giant Jupiter is the solar system's
largest world with about 320 times the mass
of planet Earth.

Famous for its
Great Red Spot, Jupiter
is also known for its regular, equatorial cloud bands,
visible in
very modest sized telescopes.

The dark belts
and light-colored zones of
Jupiter's cloud bands are
organized by planet girdling winds
which reach speeds of up to 500 kilometers per hour.

On toward the Jovian poles though, the cloud
structures become more mottled and convoluted until,
as in this
Cassini spacecraft mosaic of Jupiter,
the planet's polar region begins to look something like a

This striking equator-to-pole change in cloud patterns
is not presently understood but may be due in part
to the effect of Jupiter's rapid rotation or to
convection vortices generated
at high latitudes by the massive planet's internal heat loss.

The Cassini spacecraft
this dramatically detailed view of Jupiter in 2000 December
during its turn of the
millennium flyby
enroute to Saturn.

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