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Smiling Planet! NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Captures Jupiter’s ‘Smiley Face’, See It Here

First Posted: Oct 22, 2016 05:18 AM EDT

NASA's Juno spacecraft managed to capture a cute photo of Jupiter before the computers onboard the module crashed. The image makes it seem as if Jupiter is actually a giant smiley face. As per NASA, the smiling effect was actually caused by the swirling atmosphere of the giant planet's South Pole.

JunoCam took the photo when Jupiter was only half lit, from the point of the camera's view. Randy Ahn, a citizen scientist who helps NASA with the massive dataset from JunoCam, then processed the image by copying and flipping the features to make the planet look like a massive smiley.

"JunoCam has a small operations team and no image processing team, so we took a leap of faith that the public would step up and help us generate images of Jupiter from the raw data," said Candy Hansen, imaging scientist for JunoCam. Incidentally, people from various walks of life have been adding their own aesthetics to the JunoCam site, the imaging scientist added. Hansen also added that so far the expectations for JunoCam are not only being met but also being exceeded.

Incidentally, Juno made a close flyby of the hugest known planet of the solar system, Jupiter, this week. However, following that flyby the spacecraft was forced to go into safe mode and turn its instruments off, following problem detection by its software performance monitor. The mission is set to make another flyby on December 11.

During an earlier flyby of Jupiter, on August 27, the Juno spacecraft was able to make new observations about Jupiter's aurora and magnetic fields. The Microwave Radiometer instrument (MWR) on the craft also allowed researchers to look below the planet's cloud deck for the first time. The data collected by the JunoCam public outreach camera is open to access by citizen scientists on the JunoCam website, for them to reportedly give artistic renditions to the images among others purposes.

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