These stunning Jupiter pictures, captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft, show the hidden beauty that lurks within the planet's chaotic storms.
Ever since NASA's Juno spacecraft began orbiting our solar system's largest planet in 2016, it has turned out countless breathtaking Jupiter pictures, giving researchers and space enthusiasts an unprecedented look at the mysterious planet.
Because Jupiter is a stormy planet with chaotic clouds constantly swirling above its surface, it makes for quite the visual spectacle. The spacecraft has captured a nearly constant stream of photos of this spectacle, and the most recent one has caused a stir on social media with hundreds of people chiming in about what animals, people, and objects they see lurking in the planet's swirling clouds.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab tweeted the stunning photo on Nov. 9 (it was captured 4,400 miles above the planet's surface on Oct. 29), asking their followers what they saw in the clouds and the answers were nothing if not varied.
One user was convinced that they saw a squid.
Another believed that the swirling clouds formed the image of a dragon, and they added their own lines to enhance their argument for those who might not see it right away.
One of the more unique things spotted in the photo by a Twitter user was the Virgin Mary with a diplodocus dinosaur.
I see the classical image of the Virgin Mary together with a diplodocus! Perhaps I should have gone to Specsavers, no, wait, I did!! pic.twitter.com/xsortEda7Z
— Paula (@cantwell14) November 9, 2018
Despite what others may see in the clouds, it should be noted that this photo, like the rest of the Jupiter pictures captured by NASA, was enhanced. The raw photos captured by Juno are enhanced in-house at NASA before they are shown to the public. During the enhancement process, the team corrects distortions, adds color, and balances the brightness.
Editing the photos allows the storms and wind currents on the planet to be highlighted in a way that is easier to see, while subtle color changes make the photo more visually stunning. The enhanced Jupiter pictures also allow the minds of space enthusiasts to run wild and speculate over what they see inside.
For the latest batch of photos taken from Juno, NASA enlisted artists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran to touch up the pictures and there was more than one that caused a stir on social media. Doran posted a few of the shots to his Twitter account and one eagle-eyed user was quick to point out the unmistakable form of a dolphin in the clouds.
No matter what enhancements he's made, Doran is careful to not cross the line between enhancing the photos and completely altering them.
“It’s like peeling back a curtain,” Doran told The Atlantic in 2017 regarding the enhancing of Jupiter pictures. “You just want to reveal what’s there. That’s what motivates me—and I try not to upset the scientists too much.”
Whatever touch-ups occur, these Jupiter pictures have a way of sparking the imaginations of all who see them. Just as we do with our own planet's clouds, people can't help but spot creatures, historical figures, or animals in the stormy clouds covering this most awe-inspiring of planets.