Scientists have explained the rationale behind the mysterious image of planet Jupiter captured by US space agency NASA. The photo of the planet was captured earlier this month by Juno spacecraft of NASA. It showed a scary black hole on the surface of the planet. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. Scientists have now said that the black spot on the surface of the gas giant was nothing but just a shadow. It was cast by the planet’s volcanic moon Io. Io is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. Io is also the most volcanically active body in the solar system. It is very close to Jupiter and needs just 42.5 Earth hours to make a complete orbit. It is said that Jupiter’s moon is about the same size as Earth’s moon and the shadow was quite similar to a solar eclipse on Earth. However, because of the gigantic size of Jupiter, it appeared more like a shadow.
The photo of Jupiter was captured by the JunoCam onboard Juno spacecraft on September 12. The space agency released the stunning photographs of the planet to the public wherein it showed a massive black spot atop the plant. The JunoCam clicked the pictures during the spacecraft’s close encounter with Jupiter. The spacecraft was approximately 8,000 kms from the surface of Jupiter when JunoCam clicked the photographs and relayed to NASA. The Juno spacecraft had arrived at the Jovian system in July 2017. At present, it is in a highly elliptical polar orbit thus bringing it closer to the planet.
The Juno spacecraft was launched from Florida on August 5, 2011. It was built by Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft entered a polar orbit of Jupiter five years later in 2016. Since then it is probing the planet. The NASA had launched the mission to measure the composition, magnetic feed, and gravity of Jupiter. The spacecraft is slated to perform around a dozen more perijoves. The mission will end in July 2021.