Adaptive optics observations of Jupiter, acquired from Chile's European South Observatory, were released on Thursday. These images show Jupiter as it appears in the near-infrared near 2 microns, beyond the light that humans can see. So clearly, these are false color images that were released. But the images still are very cool, showing how the recent reshaping of Jupiter's cloud belts have affected its haze layers higher up in the atmosphere. For example, the brightest part of the haze layer over the equatorial belt has switched from the northern to the southern hemisphere. The observations resulted from a new system that allows the adaptive optics system to use moving reference targets for a longer period of time, allowing astronomers to use the AO system over a larger field of view.
They still need to look at Io more often ;-)
Speaking of ground-based observations of the Jupiter system, amateur astronomer Paul Haese has set up an online gallery showing the observations he has acquired of Jupiter during the last three years. These images have high enough resolution to pick up some of the larger scale albedo markings on Io, like the difference in brightness and color between the polar and equatorial regions. Definitely worth checking out.
Link: Sharpening Up Jupiter [www.eso.org]