• The image shows a green lightning bolt on Jupiter
  • It was taken by the Juno spacecraft in December 2020
  • It was processed by a citizen scientist

NASA's Juno spacecraft has done it again. It captured stunning imagery of Jupiter, this time of the eerie green glow of lightning near the gas giant's north pole.

The Juno spacecraft captured the stunning image a few years back on Dec. 30, 2020, NASA said Friday. It captured the image as it was completing its 31st close flyby of Jupiter.

Jupiter's mesmerizing swirls are visible in the photo. The brightness on the left side of the photo gradually fades to the dark side on the right. And at the center, one can see a green glow signifying a lightning bolt near the edge of what appears to be a massive storm.

The green light gives the image a rather eerie feel as it appears to glow just as the light areas give way to the dark side.

Juno was about 19,900 miles (32,000 kilometers) over the planet's cloud tops when it captured the image. The image was processed in 2022 by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill.

Interestingly, it also displays the similarities and differences between lightning on Earth and on Jupiter.

"On Earth, lightning bolts originate from water clouds and happen most frequently near the equator, while on Jupiter lightning likely also occurs in clouds containing an ammonia-water solution and can be seen most often near the poles," NASA explained.

This now adds to the incredible data provided by Juno spacecraft, which is currently on its extended mission, nearly seven years into its time in orbit.

So far, Juno has conducted more than 50 flybys of Jupiter, each time collecting valuable information about the largest planet in our solar system and its moons. On its 51st flyby back in May, it captured some incredible views of Jupiter's volcanic moon, Io.

Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida back on Aug. 5, 2011, Juno spent five years on the journey to Jupiter and finally reached there on July 4, 2016.

Its discoveries since have "changed our view of Jupiter's atmosphere and interior," NASA noted. The mission even involves members of the public through its "first ever camera dedicated to public outreach."

Interested citizen scientists can help process the images captured by JunoCam. The raw images for processing, and some incredible featured submissions from the public, are available on the Mission Juno website.

As Juno continues on its mission, we may just see more of such incredible data. Juno's orbit will keep taking the spacecraft close to Jupiter.

"In the coming months, Juno's orbits will repeatedly take it close to Jupiter as the spacecraft passes over the giant planet's night side, which will provide even more opportunities for Juno's suite of science instruments to catch lightning in the act," the agency said.

Jupiter South Pole
An image of Jupiter captured by Juno from almost directly the planet's south pole, Dec. 16, 2017. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt