The familiar axisymmetric zones and belts that characterize Jupiter’s weather system at lower latitudes give way to pervasive cyclonic activity at higher latitudes1. Two-dimensional turbulence in combination with the Coriolis β-effect (that is, the large meridionally varying Coriolis force on the giant planets of the Solar System) produces alternating zonal flows2. The zonal flows weaken with rising latitude so that a transition between equatorial jets and polar turbulence on Jupiter can occur3,4. Simulations with shallow-water models of giant planets support this transition by producing both alternating flows near the equator and circumpolar cyclones near the poles5,6,7,8,9. Jovian polar regions are not visible from Earth owing to Jupiter’s low axial tilt, and were poorly characterized by previous missions because the trajectories of these missions did not venture far from Jupiter’s equatorial plane. Here we report that visible and infrared images obtained from above each pole by the Juno spacecraft during its first five orbits reveal persistent polygonal patterns of large cyclones. In the north, eight circumpolar cyclones are observed about a single polar cyclone; in the south, one polar cyclone is encircled by five circumpolar cyclones. Cyclonic circulation is established via time-lapse imagery obtained over intervals ranging from 20 minutes to 4 hours. Although migration of cyclones towards the pole might be expected as a consequence of the Coriolis β-effect, by which cyclonic vortices naturally drift towards the rotational pole, the configuration of the cyclones is without precedent on other planets (including Saturn’s polar hexagonal features). The manner in which the cyclones persist without merging and the process by which they evolve to their current configuration are unknown.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    et al. Cassini imaging of Jupiter’s atmosphere, satellites, and rings. Science 299, 1541–1547 (2003)

  2. 2.

    Waves and turbulence on a beta-plane. J. Fluid Mech. 69, 417–443 (1975)

  3. 3.

    Equatorward energy cascade, critical latitude, and the predominance of cyclonic vortices in geostrophic turbulence. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 34, 1663–1678 (2004)

  4. 4.

    , & The emergence of multiple robust zonal jets from freely evolving, three-dimensional stratified geostrophic turbulence with applications to Jupiter. J. Atmos. Sci. 65, 3947–3962 (2008)

  5. 5.

    & The emergence of jets and vortices in freely evolving, shallow-water turbulence on a sphere. Phys. Fluids 8, 1531–1552 (1996)

  6. 6.

    , & Spontaneous formation of equatorial jets in freely decaying shallow water turbulence. Phys. Fluids 11, 1272–1274 (1999)

  7. 7.

    Numerical simulations of forced shallow-water turbulence: effects of moist convection on the large-scale circulation of Jupiter and Saturn. J. Atmos. Sci. 64, 3132–3157 (2007)

  8. 8.

    & Forced-dissipative shallow-water turbulence on the sphere and the atmospheric circulation of the giant planets. J. Atmos. Sci. 64, 3158–3176 (2007)

  9. 9.

    , & Polar vortex formation in giant-planet atmospheres due to most convection. Nat. Geosci. 8, 523–526 (2015)

  10. 10.

    et al. Jupiter’s interior and deep atmosphere: the initial pole-to-pole passes with the Juno spacecraft. Science 356, 821–825 (2017)

  11. 11.

    et al. Jupiter’s magnetosphere and aurorae observed by the Juno spacecraft during its first polar orbits. Science 356, 826–832 (2017)

  12. 12.

    et al. Preliminary results on the composition of Jupiter’s troposphere in hot spot regions from the JIRAM/Juno instrument. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4615–4624 (2017)

  13. 13.

    et al. Characterization of the white ovals on Jupiter’s southern hemisphere using the first data by the Juno/JIRAM instrument. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4660–4668 (2017)

  14. 14.

    et al. The first close-up images of Jupiter’s polar regions: results from the Juno mission JunoCam instrument. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4599–4606 (2017)

  15. 15.

    et al. Multiple-wavelength sensing of Jupiter during the Juno mission's first perijove passage. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4607–4614 (2017)

  16. 16.

    et al. JIRAM, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper. Space Sci. Rev. 213, 393–446 (2017)

  17. 17.

    et al. Juno’s Earth flyby: the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper preliminary results. Astrophys. Space Sci. 361, 272 (2016)

  18. 18.

    et al. JunoCam: Juno’s Outreach Camera. Space Sci. Rev. 213, 475–506 (2017)

  19. 19.

    A generalized Rhines effect and storms on Jupiter. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L08809 (2006)

  20. 20.

    & EPIC simulations of time-dependent, three-dimensional vortices with application to Neptune’s great dark spot. Icarus 132, 239–265 (1998)

  21. 21.

    & The dynamics of jovian white ovals from formation to merger. Icarus 162, 74–93 (2003)

  22. 22.

    , , & Relaxation of 2D turbulence to vortex crystals. Phys. Res. Lett. 75, 3277–3280 (1995)

  23. 23.

    , , & Vortex crystals from 2D Euler flow: experiment and simulation. Phys. Fluids 11, 905–914 (1999)

  24. 24.

    Ancillary data services of NASA’s navigation and ancillary information facility. Planet. Space Sci. 44, 65–70 (1996)

  25. 25.

    . (ed.) International Tables for Crystallography Vol. A, 5th edn, 768, 786 (Springer, 2005)

  26. 26.

    et al. Vortex crystals. Adv. Appl. Mech. 39, 1–79 (2003)

  27. 27.

    The two fluid model of helium II. Nuovo Cimento 6 (Suppl. 2), 245–250 (1949); see discussion by L. Onsager, 249–250

  28. 28.

    in Progress in Low Temperature Physics Vol. 1 (ed. Gorter, C. J.) Ch. II, 17–53 (Elsevier, 1955)

  29. 29.

    The theory of superfluidity of helium II. Zh. Eksp. Teor. Fiz. 11, 592 (1941)

  30. 30.

    , & Observation of stationary vortex arrays in rotating superfluid helium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 43, 214–217 (1979)

Download references


The JIRAM project is founded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). In particular this work has been developed under the ASI-INAF agreement number 2016-23-H.0. The JunoCam instrument and its operations are funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A portion of this work was supported by NASA funds to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to the California Institute of Technology, and to the Southwest Research Institute. A.P.I. was supported by NASA funds to the Juno project and by NSF grant number 1411952.

Author information


  1. INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Roma, Italy

    • A. Adriani
    • , A. Mura
    • , F. Altieri
    • , G. Filacchione
    • , G. Sindoni
    • , F. Tosi
    • , A. Migliorini
    • , D. Grassi
    • , G. Piccioni
    • , R. Noschese
    • , A. Cicchetti
    • , D. Turrini
    • , S. Stefani
    •  & R. Sordini
  2. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA

    • G. Orton
    • , T. Momary
    •  & F. Tabataba-Vakili
  3. Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA

    • C. Hansen
  4. CNR-Istituto di Scienze dell’Atmosfera e del Clima, Bologna e Roma, Italy

    • M. L. Moriconi
    • , B. M. Dinelli
    •  & F. Fabiano
  5. British Astronomical Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0DU, UK

    • J. Rogers
  6. Alexanderstraße 21, 70184 Stuttgart, Germany

    • G. Eichstädt
  7. Division of Geology and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA

    • A. P. Ingersoll
  8. Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy

    • F. Fabiano
  9. Space Science and Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, USA

    • S. J. Bolton
  10. Code 695, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  11. Planetary Sciences Laboratory, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

    • S. K. Atreya
  12. Center for Astrophysics and Space Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

    • J. I. Lunine
  13. Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Roma, Italy

    • C. Plainaki
    • , A. Olivieri
    •  & M. Amoroso
  14. Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    • M. E. O’Neill
  15. Departamento de Fisica, Universidad de Atacama, Copayapu 485, Copiapò, Chile

    • D. Turrini


  1. Search for A. Adriani in:

  2. Search for A. Mura in:

  3. Search for G. Orton in:

  4. Search for C. Hansen in:

  5. Search for F. Altieri in:

  6. Search for M. L. Moriconi in:

  7. Search for J. Rogers in:

  8. Search for G. Eichstädt in:

  9. Search for T. Momary in:

  10. Search for A. P. Ingersoll in:

  11. Search for G. Filacchione in:

  12. Search for G. Sindoni in:

  13. Search for F. Tabataba-Vakili in:

  14. Search for B. M. Dinelli in:

  15. Search for F. Fabiano in:

  16. Search for S. J. Bolton in:

  17. Search for J. E. P. Connerney in:

  18. Search for S. K. Atreya in:

  19. Search for J. I. Lunine in:

  20. Search for F. Tosi in:

  21. Search for A. Migliorini in:

  22. Search for D. Grassi in:

  23. Search for G. Piccioni in:

  24. Search for R. Noschese in:

  25. Search for A. Cicchetti in:

  26. Search for C. Plainaki in:

  27. Search for A. Olivieri in:

  28. Search for M. E. O’Neill in:

  29. Search for D. Turrini in:

  30. Search for S. Stefani in:

  31. Search for R. Sordini in:

  32. Search for M. Amoroso in:


A.A. and C.H. are the Juno mission instrument leads for the JIRAM and JunoCam instruments, respectively, and they planned and implemented the observations discussed in this paper. S.J.B. and J.E.P.C. are respectively the principal and the deputy responsible for the Juno mission. A.A., A. Mura, G.O., J.R., A.I. and F.T.-V. were responsible for writing substantial parts of the paper. M.E.O’N. helped with the interpretation of the cyclonic structure. A. Mura, F.A., M.L.M. and D.G. were responsible for reduction and measurement of the JIRAM data and their rendering into graphical formats. G.E., T.M., G.O. and J.R. were responsible for the same tasks for JunoCam data. F.T.-V. and F.F. were responsible for the geometric calibration of the JIRAM data. G.F., G.S., B.M.D. and S.S. were responsible for the JIRAM data radiance calibrations. A.C., R.N. and R.S. were responsible for the JIRAM ground segment. S.K.A., J.I.L., A. Migliorini, D.T, G.P. and D.T. supervised the work. C.P., A.O. and M.A. were responsible for the JIRAM project from the Italian Space Agency side.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Adriani.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Supplementary information

Zip files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This zipped file contains 9 videos for the North Pole (8 CPC, plus the NPC); each video is made of 11 images. It also contains 6 videos for the South Pole (5 CPC, plus the SPC); each video is made of 6 images. References are to Figure 1. 0°W in System III is positioned on the right centre of the images. Both Poles are seen from above, namely, progressing counter clockwise you move towards east in the North and towards west in the South. For the North Pole videos, north0.avi.mp4 is the North Polar Cyclone, north1.avi.mp4 is the cyclone at 0°W and for the other videos north[X].avi.mp4, the numbering [X=2 to 8] proceeds counter clockwise. For the South Pole videos, south0.avi.mp4 is the South Polar Cyclone, south1.avi.mp4 is the cyclone at 150°W and for the other videos south [X].avi.mp4, the numbering [X=2 to 5] proceeds counterclockwise.

About this article

Publication history






Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing