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Intense new NASA photos show that Jupiter is hell

A rendered image of Jupiter produced using Juno data.

Jupiter looks like hell.

The huge planet in the middle of our solar system has giant Earth-sized storms, a powerful magnetic field, and extreme auroras, a series of new scientific studies published this week show.

The new findings come from data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been studying Jupiter since it arrived in orbit around the huge world in July 2016.

And wow, are there surprises from the information Juno has gathered.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

Jupiter’s south pole.

"There is so much going on here that we didn’t expect that we have had to take a step back and begin to rethink of this as a whole new Jupiter," Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton said in a statement Thursday.

The photos taken by Juno reveal an entirely different planet than what we have seen before.

Image: NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

Clouds on Jupiter.

For one thing, the daily weather report on Jupiter is far worse than we thought.

Although the planet’s Great Red Spot has long been known, images recently beamed back from the spacecraft show the planet’s south pole also swirls with massive cyclones. Each of the South Pole storms are up to about 600 miles across.

"It’s a really stormy day on Jupiter," Juno team member Candy Hansen said during a news conference Thursday. "We’ve got these little white storm systems really just scattered across the entire south tropical zone."

Jupiter’s clouds also grow to astonishingly high altitudes. Some photos taken this year show bright clouds in Jupiter’s atmosphere and huge "cloud towers" that stretch up 30 miles and cast shadows on the clouds below, according to NASA.

"On Jupiter, clouds this high are almost certainly composed of water and/or ammonia ice, and they may be sources of lightning," NASA said of the cloud towers. "This is the first time so many cloud towers have been visible."

In comparison, the most powerful thunderstorms on Earth, which bubble up near the Equator, only reach about half these heights.

Image: NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

A full view of Jupiter’s clouds.

Juno also managed to take a particularly amazing video showing Jupiter’s southern lights during its close pass with the planet in February.

The bright greens and reds dance above the huge planet’s south pole spurred on by the planet’s volcanic moon Io and its interaction with the large world’s magnetic field.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Juno since it arrived at Jupiter.

NASA mission managers have kept Juno in a 53-day orbit around the huge planet instead of moving it down into a shorter orbit as planned because of issues with the spacecraft’s engine.

Juno is safe in its current orbit, but it’ll take a bit longer for scientists on Earth to transmit its data back home in this mode.

But it’s probably worth the wait.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system — one that every school kid knows — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot," Bolton added in the statement.

"If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”