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Just in Time for Halloween, NASA’s Juno Mission Glimpses Horrifying “Face” on the Surface of Jupiter
All of our favorite slashers are unique in their own ways. Some of them are possessed dolls, while others are escaped psychiatric patients with a knife-shaped ax to grind. Despite the things that make them special, there is one thing that all successful movie slashers have in common: a distorted, obscured, or otherwise inhuman face.
Everyone from Chucky and Freddy to Michael Myers and Leatherface knows that when it comes to striking fear into the hearts of those who behold them, a spooky face is even more effective than a sharp weapon.
Juno Captures Image of Jupiter's "Halloween Mask"
Enter a temporary storm system in the atmosphere of Jupiter, the latest entrant into the interplanetary Halloween costume contest. Jupiter’s spooky Halloween-themed photo shoot was conducted by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its 54th flyby of the planet on September 7, 2023. Juno turned its attention to an area known as Jet N7, at a latitude of roughly 69 degrees north.
The image was taken from an altitude of approximately 4,800 miles (7,700 kilometers) above the surface of the planet at a position lying just beside the terminator –– the line separating night from day. The low angle of sunlight in the area helped to highlight some of the storm system’s features, making the face more readily apparent, according to NASA.
The face itself is made from a number of storm systems, each of them creating a swirling vortex, all mashed together into the undeniable shape of an admittedly distorted human face. Jupiter, of course, isn’t the only planet in the solar system known for making faces at us. The well-known “Face on Mars” as well as a more recently discovered “bear” on the Red Planet are just a couple of examples. Jupiter, because of the ever-changing gaseous surface, provides greater opportunities for finding patterns than its rockier little siblings.
Like most features on Jupiter, the face at Jet N7 is in flux and won’t last forever. If we were to look again today, we’d likely see a very different set of features if we saw any face in the area at all. And if there’s anything worse than seeing a horrifying face in the dark, it’s checking back only to find that it has disappeared.