New photo of Jupiter shows planet with huge smiley face

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A new image, processed by a citizen scientist using data from a NASA spacecraft near Jupiter, shows the huge planet in a friendly new light.

While Jupiter — the largest planet in our solar system — is usually known for its immense gravity and extreme belts of hazardous radiation, the world looks distinctly happy, with a large smile in this new image created from data collected by NASA's Juno mission. Randy Ahn created the smiley photo by copying and flipping an image of a "half-lit" Jupiter, mirroring it on itself, according to NASA.

The new image was released as part of the agency's JunoCam initiative, which asks people to process raw images beamed back from Jupiter by Juno.

Photo via NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SWRI/MSSS/RANDY AHN

"The amateurs are giving us a different perspective on how to process images," Candy Hansen, JunoCam imaging scientist, said in a statement.

"They are experimenting with different color enhancements, different highlights or annotations than we would normally expect. They are identifying storms tracked from Earth to connect our images to the historical record. This is citizen science at its best."

Juno is also beaming back plenty of science in its own right, but the spacecraft — which reached Jupiter in July — recently ran into some snags.

Another citizen scientist-processed image of Jupiter.
Another citizen scientist-processed image of Jupiter.
Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Alex Mai

Unexpected issues onboard

The spacecraft went into "safe mode" unexpectedly on Tuesday, when a monitor forced a reboot of Juno's computer after detecting something wasn't right. Because of that safe mode, the science instruments were turned off, and the spacecraft wasn't able to gather scientific data during a close flyby of Jupiter.

Mission controllers still aren't sure exactly why the spacecraft went into safe mode, but radiation doesn't seem to be the culprit.

"At the time safe mode was entered, the spacecraft was more than 13 hours from its closest approach to Jupiter," Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, said in the statement.

"We were still quite a ways from the planet's more intense radiation belts and magnetic fields. The spacecraft is healthy and we are working our standard recovery procedure."

NASA is also looking into another problem with Juno involving valves important to its propulsion system.

Related: More from Juno's journey:

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NASA's Juno spacecraft lands on Jupiter
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NASA's Juno spacecraft lands on Jupiter
An artist's rendering depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft above Jupiter's north pole in this undated handout image. Launched in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Members of the Juno team celebrate at a press conference after they received confirmation from the Juno spacecraft that it had completed the engine burn and successfully entered into orbit around Jupiter,at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, U.S. in this July 4, 2016 handout photo. The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 and will orbit the planet for 20 months to collect data on the planetary core, map the magnetic field, and measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere. NASA/Aubrey Gemignani/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
(L-R) Dr. Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director, NASA; Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute; Geoff Yoder, acting Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA; Michael Watkins, director, NASA?s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); celebrate with others on the Juno team after they received confirmation from the spacecraft that it had successfully completed the engine burn and entered orbit of Jupiter, in mission control of the Space Flight Operations Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, U.S. in this July 4, 2016 handout photo. The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 and will orbit the planet for 20 months to collect data on the planetary core, map the magnetic field, and measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere. NASA/Aubrey Gemignani/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A 1/4 scale model of NASA's Juno Spacecraft is seen in front of an image of Jupiter, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, July 3, 2016. NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft is scheduled to enter into orbit around Jupiter on July 4 to begin an in-depth study of the planet's formation, evolution and structure. The key event on July 4 is a 35-minute engine burn at 11:18 p.m. EDT (0318 GMT on Tuesday), which is designed to slow Juno down enough to be captured by Jupiter's powerful gravity. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NASA's Juno Mission Principal Investigator Scott Bolton (L) and Robert Kondrk (R), Apple vice president for Content and Media Apps, speak at a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, June 30, 2016 to announce 'Destination: Juno,' a collaboration between NASA and Apple to bring 'exploratory' music inspired by space from artists such as Brad Paisley, Corinne Bailey Rae, GZA, Jim James featuring Lydia Tyrell, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Weezer and Zoé to Apple Music and iTunes listeners. The Juno spacecraft is scheduled to enter Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016 after a five years voyage to the fifth planet from the sun. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NASA Program Executive Diane Brown (L), Juno Mission Principal Investigator Scott Bolton (C) and Robert Kondrk (R), Apple vice president for Content and Media Apps, attend a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, June 30, 2016 to announce 'Destination: Juno,' a collaboration between NASA and Apple to bring 'exploratory' music inspired by space from artists such as Brad Paisley, Corinne Bailey Rae, GZA, Jim James featuring Lydia Tyrell, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Weezer and Zoé to Apple Music and iTunes listeners. The Juno spacecraft is scheduled to enter Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016 after a five years voyage to the fifth planet from the sun. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JUNE 30: A scientist works at the Deep Space Network desk in the mission control room of the JPL Space Flight Operations Facility at JPL as NASA officials and the public look forward to the Independence Day arrival of the the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, at JPL on June 30, 2016 in Pasadena, California. After having traveling nearly 1.8 billion miles over the past five years, the NASA Juno spacecraft will arrival to Jupiter on the Fourth of July to go enter orbit and gather data to study the enigmas beneath the cloud tops of Jupiter. The risky $1.1 billion mission will fail if it does not enter orbit on the first try and overshoots the planet. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JUNE 30: Cassini Ace Bill Mogensen works at his desk in the mission control room of the JPL Space Flight Operations Facility at JPL as NASA officials and the public look forward to the Independence Day arrival of the the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, at JPL on June 30, 2016 in Pasadena, California. After having traveling nearly 1.8 billion miles over the past five years, the NASA Juno spacecraft will arrival to Jupiter on the Fourth of July to go enter orbit and gather data to study the enigmas beneath the cloud tops of Jupiter. The risky $1.1 billion mission will fail if it does not enter orbit on the first try and overshoots the planet. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - (From R) Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, Scott Bolton, NASA principal investigator for the Juno mission to Jupiter and Jim Green, NASA director of Planetary Science, react as the Juno spacecraft successfully enters Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / POOL / Ringo Chiu (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Bolton (L), NASA principal investigator for the Juno mission to Jupiter, reacts as the Juno spacecraft successfully enters Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / POOL / Ringo Chiu (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken (C) celebrates as the solar-powered Juno spacecraft goes into orbit around Jupiter, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / POOL / Ringo Chiu (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)
Staff members watch on before the solar-powered Juno spacecraft went into orbit around Jupiter, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / POOL / Ringo Chiu (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)
Diane Brown (L), NASA Juno program executive, Scott Bolton (C), Juno principal investigator and Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, celebrate at a press conference after the Juno spacecraft was successfully placed into Jupiter's orbit, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken (L) and principal investigator Scott Bolton (R) celebrate as the solar-powered Juno spacecraft goes into orbit around Jupiter, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on August 5, 2011 on a five-year voyage to its mission to study the planet's formation, evolution and structure. / AFP / POOL / Ringo Chiu (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JULY 4: Juno team members celebrate in mission control of the Space Flight Operations Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after receiving confirmation from the spacecraft that it has successfully entered orbit of Jupiter, July 4, 2016 in Pasadena, CA. The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 and will orbit the planet for 20 months to collect data on the planetary core, map the magnetic field, and measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere. (Photo by Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images)
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Last week, mission controllers put off an engine burn that would have brought Juno's orbit down to 14 days, instead of 53, but due to the issue, they decided to postpone.

It's not yet clear when or if engineers will decide to change Juno's orbit, but even if it does stay in the longer orbit for the rest of its mission, it will still be scientifically productive, according to Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton.

"The worst-case-scenario is I have to be patient and get the science slowly," Bolton said. If they have to stick to the 53-day orbit, "the science opportunities are all there," he added.

In spite of those setbacks, scientists are still working through analyzing data sent home from Juno gathered during its close flyby of Jupiter on Aug. 27.

Scientists are starting to peer beneath Jupiter's cloud tops for the first time, checking out the layers below.

"We are seeing that those beautiful belts and bands of orange and white we see at Jupiter's cloud tops extend in some version as far down as our instruments can see, but seem to change with each layer," Bolton said.

Juno also gathered data about the planet's strong magnetic field and its extreme auroras, but those discoveries are expected to be announced later this year.

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