Spacecraft's Pictures of Jupiter Reveal Planet's Lighter Side

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Byline: GERAINT SMITH

BREATHTAKING images of Jupiter captured by a Nasa spacecraft on its way to Saturn were made public for the first time today.

The pictures, beamed 400 million to Earth from the American space agency's Cassini spacecraft, are being analysed by British scientists.

As well as providing dramatic new views of Jupiter and its moons, they have turned at least one scientific assumption about the giant planet upside down.

Cassini was launched in October 1997 on a mission to Saturn, which it should reach in July next year. It carries the European Space Agency's Huygens probe which is due to parachute down into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

The spacecraft made a flyby of Jupiter to pick up speed by getting a gravitational "kick" from the planet.

Scientists took the opportunity to obtain thousands of images of Jupiter as Cassini flew past the planet at a distance of six million miles. The pictures clearly show Jupiter's swirling cloud bands and the planet's famous Red Spot - thought to be a giant storm system. …