LOS ANGELES — A NASA spacecraft has captured the best views of Jupiter yet, revealing turbulent storms in the north pole.
Jupiter's northern polar region is stormier than expected and appears bluer than the rest of the planet, said mission chief scientist Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
"This image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter," he said in a statement.
NASA on Friday released a batch of close-up pictures taken by the Juno spacecraft last week when it flew within 2,500 miles of Jupiter's dense cloud tops.
During the rendezvous that took Juno from pole to pole, the solar-powered spacecraft turned on its camera and instruments to collect data.
The first glimpse of Jupiter's poles came in 1974 when Pioneer 11 flew by on its way to Saturn.
The detailed pictures taken by Juno look "like nothing we have seen or imagined before," Bolton said.
Juno also sent back unique views of Jupiter's bright southern lights considered the most powerful in the solar system.
The flyby was the first of three dozen planned close passes during the 20-month mission.
Studying the largest planet in the solar system may hold clues to understanding how Earth and the rest of the planets formed.