From The Editors Science

NASA’s Juno Probe Captures Image of a Dolphin-like Shape Swimming in Jupiter’s Clouds

Ever since NASA’s Juno space probe entered a polar orbit of Jupiter in July 2016, having been launched as part of the space agency’s New Frontiers Program in August 2011, it has been beaming back some awe-inspiring images of the largest planet in our solar system and its atmosphere.

While NASA has made a whole lot of these images available in the public domain, some recent ones show what appears to be a dolphin-like figure, apparently swimming in Jupiter’s clouds.

However, the images you see below are visually-enhanced versions of raw pictures captured by Juno – thanks to the skills of well-known visual artist Seán Doran, who along with fellow image processor Brian Swift made these incredibly striking images a reality.

On Thursday, Doran posted four of his creations on Twitter showing the marine mammal’s shape, with an accompanying message that read:

“A dolphin swims in Jupiter’s sky.”

Twitter follower David Cartwright responded to the post, saying that the shape looked more like a killer whale than a dolphin and asked Doran about its scale in relation to Earth.

“First it looks more like a killer whale, and second what sort of scale is that to say earth? Is it big enough to eat the moon,” quipped Cartwright.

However, Doran is convinced that it’s a dolphin and said it in so many words.

“I saw it first Big Dave, it’s a dolphin dude,” he wrote.

As for the scale ratio question, he said it was roughly the same size as Earth.

“I’d say it was at least Earth sized, that is, ball park Earth scale,” Doran added.

Here’s an example of a raw image from Juno.

PJ16 SOUTH POLE AT MINIMUM EMISSION ANGLE - 2018-10-29 22:39 UT – Credit NASA / SwRI / MSSS - Mission Phase : PERIJOVE 16
PJ16 SOUTH POLE AT MINIMUM EMISSION ANGLE – 2018-10-29 22:39 UT – Credit NASA / SwRI / MSSS – Mission Phase : PERIJOVE 16

And, this is what one of Doran’s visually-enhanced images looks like.

PJ16_13_GE_DETAIL00. 2018-11-03 17:17 UT - Credit : NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran © CC NC SA - Submitted By : Seán Doran - Mission Phase : PERIJOVE 16
PJ16_13_GE_DETAIL00. 2018-11-03 17:17 UT – Credit : NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran © CC NC SA – Submitted By : Seán Doran – Mission Phase : PERIJOVE 16

This is not the first time, though, that we’re are being treated to space images resembling marine animals.

Back in March 2016, NASA shared a raw image captured by one of Curiosity rover’s left navigation camera that clearly shows a fish-like formation on the surface of Mars.

Although the shape seen in the image below is nothing but a piece of Martian rock that looks like a fish, some over-enthusiastic believers in UFOs and extraterrestrial life deemed it as a vindication of their claims.

One such person was Scott C Waring who claimed in his blog “UFO Sightings Daily” that the rock was, in fact, the fossilized remains of a fish – a “petrified fish,” in his own word – that he said was about half a meter long, about the same size as a bass or a small salmon.

To drive home his point, Waring even shared a colored picture of the image.
“I colored the fish to make it easier on the eyes,” he said.


“It’s a good thing I got a photo of this or you would never believe it,” he wrote.

“Last year NASA announced that there were oceans on Mars and that it did look a lot like Earth in many ways,” Waring said.

“I guess this petrified fish is proof of that.”

Original NASA image. (Image:
Original NASA image. (Image:

Again, in February this year, NASA released images of a pair of galaxies that looked uncannily like a galactic penguin guarding a galactic egg, fondly calling it “the Penguin and the Egg.”

Officially, the two galaxies are collectively known as Arp 142; however, they do have their individual identifications, too – the “Penguin” part of the duo formally referred to as NGC 2936 and the “Egg” as NGC 2937.

According to NASA, Penguin probably originated as a spiral galaxy that got distorted over time by the Egg’s gravitational forces acting on it.

“The “penguin” part of the pair, NGC 2936, was probably once a relatively normal-looking spiral galaxy, flattened like a pancake with smoothly symmetric spiral arms. Rich with newly-formed hot stars, seen in visible light from Hubble as bluish filaments, its shape has now been twisted and distorted as it responds to the gravitational tugs of its neighbor. Strands of gas mixed with dust stand out as red filaments detected at longer wavelengths of infrared light seen by Spitzer,” NASA said in a release at the time.

The Egg, on the other hand, is distinctly different in appearance and the greenish glow it exudes is characteristic of a collection of much older stars.

“The “egg” of the pair, NGC 2937, by contrast, is nearly featureless. The distinctly different greenish glow of starlight tells the story of a population of much older stars. The absence of glowing red dust features informs us that it has long since lost its reservoir of gas and dust from which new stars can form. While this galaxy is certainly reacting to the presence of its neighbor, its smooth distribution of stars obscures any obvious distortions of its shape,” said the NASA release.


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