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Life and Giant Planets
The Cassini spacecraft captured this detailed view of Jupiter in December 2000 while enroute to Saturn. The dark belts and light-colored zones of Jupiter's cloud bands are organized by planet-girdling winds which reach speeds of up to 500 kilometers per hour. Toward the Jovian poles though, the cloud structures become more mottled and convoluted. This striking equator-to-pole change in cloud patterns is not presently understood but may be due in part to the effect of Jupiter's rapid rotation or to convection vortices generated at high latitudes by the massive planet's internal heat loss. Photo Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA.


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