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NASA spacecraft nabs best picture contender of Jupiter's swirling clouds

And the award for best picture goes to... Juno.

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Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

On Earth, some of 2018's best dramas including A Star Is Born, Roma, Vice and Green Book will vie for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars.

But in the far reaches of the solar system, a plucky NASA spacecraft is drifting along, ready to upstage them all.

In February, NASA's Jovian explorer, Juno, made its 18th close flyby of Jupiter, coming within 13,000 kilometers (approx. 8,000 miles) of its roiling clouds. The picture above was snapped by the spacecrafts JunoCam imager as Juno drifted over the northern hemisphere. The large brown spot to the left of the picture sits within the swirling air currents of a region known as Jet N6.

Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill plucked the image from JunoCam's raw image database, color-enhancing the region of interest. The original image is below.

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And the award for Best Picture goes to...

NASA/JPL

As Juno swings around Jupiter, it's constantly snapping images of the gas giant like an overenthusiastic paparazzo. Since swinging into orbit in July 2016, Juno has spotted all sorts of captivating phenomena within Jupiter's clouds -- like a dolphin, Van Gogh paintings and a giant poo -- and it even turned its cameras toward the Jovian moons.

Juno was originally scheduled to crash into Jupiter last year, but NASA extended the Y-shaped spacecraft's mission until 2021, allowing it to swing around our solar system's biggest planet for another two years.

Funnily enough, Juno, the 2007 film starring Ellen Page was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2008. It did not win.

Jaw-dropping Jupiter: NASA's Juno mission eyes the gas giant

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