New NASA Photo of Jupiter's North Pole Looks Incredible
As you perhaps already know, Jupiter is an absurdly beautiful planet.
Last year, NASA began releasing photos of our solar system's largest planet, taken by the patented JunoCam digital camera which is built into the Juno space probe. It's all thanks to the careful photography work of mathematician and scientists Gerald Eichstädt, and anyone who's able to operate a camera this well from three to six hundred million miles away deserves some respect.
These pictures, by themselves, are impressive enough, but then a digital artist by the name of Seán Doran punched up the photos with Photoshop, adding in the kind of beautiful, rich color that we'd be able to see were human eyes ever actually close enough to Jupiter to get a good look.
For obvious reasons, these pictures have proven incredibly popular, but the latest work from Eichstädt and Doran might just be the best one yet:
Here we see the planet Jupiter as viewed from above its north pole, with the swirling blue top of the world visible in the middle, and all its various rings on display further down the globe. Only half the planet is visible, for the obvious reason that only half of it can ever be bathed in sunlight at any given time, giving Jupiter a wonderful, ethereal feel as it's wrapped up in inky blackness.
We've seen plenty of pictures of our own planet from this type of view before, and it's interesting to pause and consider just how similar Earth and Jupiter look when viewed from this vantage point. Both planets, to the casual observer, are blue and brown spheres that are constantly wrapped in swirling clouds. Certainly, the Earth has some green to it as well, but when viewed from a distance, it's hard to see anything more than blue oceans and constantly churning clouds - much the same as Jupiter appears in this new photos.
There are several interesting things to take away from this. It's worth noting that the Earth holds many wonders under the surface that aren't easy to spot through such a thick layer of clouds, and the same is almost certainly true of Jupiter. One theory suggests that Jupiter was once a rocky planet not much bigger than the Earth, before it released so much gas from within its core that it expanded out to the point that the entire atmosphere became a new surface for the gas giant.
A lot of very interesting sights could be waiting for us if we were able to penetrate Jupiter's thick, dangerous cloud layer, although at present, considering the strength of those storms, Juno isn't going to get too close to the planet.
It's also worth bearing in mind that if Jupiter and the Earth look so similar when viewed from this distance, then it's probably difficult to tell from an initial glance which worlds throughout the galaxy may hold life. Scientists are still not managing to locate any concrete signs of alien life on other worlds, but considering how much the Earth looks like the far less hospitable Jupiter, some life signs might be hard to spot without taking a really close look.
Either way, there's no denying the incredible beauty that Jupiter holds. Here's hoping that Eichstädt and Doran (and Juno) will continue to capture these stunning images.