What the Heck Is This?

This one will be fairly easy for some folks, impossible for others.

Hint: It’s not any sort of candy.

Another hint: It’s a view from above.

Okay, those were lousy hints. This is a close-up of swirling clouds on the gas giant planet Jupiter. It’s a segment of an image, right next to the Great Red Spot. See the whole thing below.

The clouds on Jupiter change constantly, and patterns can shift in a matter of days. But major features, such as the bands of different colors that move along at up to 300 mph, persist much longer. In fact the Red Spot has been around for centuries. The clouds generate lightning, and scientists now think they may generate helium rain.

Jupiter is one of four planets doing a dance in the pre-dawn sky right now.

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This photo of Jupiter was taken by the Cassini-Huygens mission in 2003.
This photo of Jupiter was taken by the Cassini-Huygens mission in 2003.
Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI