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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.

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it and maybe I'll use it. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

This photo of Jupiter was taken by the Cassini-Huygens mission in 2003. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI)
Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.