27 March 2016

This should look "sort of familiar" - but not quite...

The image is of the planet Jupiter - but as viewed from its south pole.
This map of Jupiter is the most detailed global color map of the planet ever produced. The round map is a polar stereographic projection that shows the south pole in the center of the map and the equator at the edge. It was constructed from images taken by Cassini on Dec. 11 and 12, 2000, as the spacecraft neared Jupiter during a flyby on its way to Saturn.

The map shows a variety of colorful cloud features, including parallel reddish-brown and white bands, the Great Red Spot, multi-lobed chaotic regions, white ovals and many small vortices. Many clouds appear in streaks and waves due to continual stretching and folding by Jupiter's winds and turbulence. The bluish-gray features along the north edge of the central bright band are equatorial "hot spots," meteorological systems such as the one entered by NASA's Galileo probe. Small bright spots within the orange band north of the equator are lightning-bearing thunderstorms. The polar region shown here is less clearly visible because Cassini viewed it at an angle and through thicker atmospheric haze.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
That's almost as cool as Saturn's north pole, which features the famous rotating hexagon:

The bizarre hexagonal cloud pattern was first discovered in 1988 by scientists reviewing data from NASA's Voyager flybys of Saturn in 1980 and 1981, but its existence was not confirmed until NASA's Cassini spacecraft observed the ringed planet up-close years later. Nothing like the hexagon has ever been seen on any other world. The structure, which contains a churning storm at its center, is about 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) wide, and thermal images show that it reaches roughly 60 miles (100 km) down into Saturn's atmosphere.


  1. Just to be clear here, that is a north and a south pole, but from two different planets, right?

    1. Oops - I got carried away and sloppy. I've amended the text. Thanks, Pearse.

    2. But the hexagon is on Saturn's North Pole, not Jupiter's.

    3. Actually I knew that, and was reminded of it after your first comment, but then I proceeded to have a second consecutive "senior moment."

      Fixed. Again. Hopefully for the last time.

      The only way this blog maintains its quality is that I have several thousand volunteer proofreaders.

      Thanks again.

  2. still missed one. here: That's almost as cool as Jupiter's north pole, which features the famous rotating hexagon
    not that i knew this was incorrect planet till reading the comments...

  3. The first image is really that of a jawbreaker cut in half, right?

    1. it is an agate cut in half (i think).



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