In this Image shown above, NASA’s Juno spacecraft detected a vortex of illumination caused by a lightning bolt. On our planet, lightning bolts emerge from water clouds and are most commonly observed near the equator. However, on Jupiter, lightning is likely to occur within clouds that contain a mixture of ammonia and water. These lightning events are frequently seen near the poles.
In the upcoming months, Juno will approach Jupiter multiple times during its orbits, particularly when the spacecraft passes over the night side of the massive planet. This will present numerous opportunities for Juno’s collection of scientific instruments to capture lightning in action.
The image was captured by Juno during its 31st close flyby of Jupiter on December 30, 2020. Kevin M. Gill, a citizen scientist, processed the image using raw data from the JunoCam instrument aboard the spacecraft in 2022. At the time the raw image was taken, Juno was positioned approximately 19,900 miles (32,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops of Jupiter, approaching the planet at a latitude of approximately 78 degrees.
Image Source: NASA