The Juno spacecraft sent to Jupiter by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration has sent back photos of features on Jupiter that resemble pearls, the agency said. The spacecraft’s camera captured the seventh of eight features of the planet forming a “string of pearls”. These are massive counter-clockwise rotating storms that look like white ovals in the southern hemisphere of the planet.

The white ovals have varied in number from six to nine since 1986 when they were first discovered. Right now, eight of them are visible. The image was taken on December 11 as the spacecraft was performing its third close flyby, around 40,000 miles away from the gas giant.

The JunoCam that captured the images was installed on the spacecraft for public engagement. It is meant to take remarkable images of the planet so that people on earth get a view of Jupiter as seen through the colour, visible-light camera.

In September, the space agency had received the first-ever images of Jupiter’s North Pole from the spacecraft. Juno, which settled into orbit around the fifth planet from the Sun in July, had earlier sent a picture of the gaseous body along with its three moons.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS