Just in time for Halloween, NASA has just released this image of a ghoulish face that emerged on the planet Jupiter.
The image was taken on September 7, 2023, during the 54th close flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno mission. It was snapped up over the gas giant’s far northern regions, called Jet N7, when the spacecraft was drifting around 7,700 kilometers (4,800 miles) above Jupiter’s cloud tops
Citizen scientist Vladimir Tarasov then tweaked the image after coming across the face while skimming through the raw data of the Juno mission, which is freely available for the public to view.
As NASA explains in a blog post, the impression of the face was created by the turbulent clouds and storms along Jupiter’s terminator, the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet.
Images of Jupiter from afar can make the planet look like smooth marble. Take a closer look, however, and it’s possible to see a medley of violent clouds that feature peaks and troughs like a rugged mountain range. Sunlight is most intense for clouds in the upper atmosphere, but it becomes increasingly absorbed as it reaches deeper into the atmosphere.
Due to their swirling and ever-changing appearance, Jupiter’s clouds frequently create beautiful patterns and shapes, including the odd face.