- The spooky image was taken during the Juno probe’s 54th close flyby of Jupiter
- NASA said it was releasing it on what would have been Picasso’s 142nd birthday
The picture was snapped by the US space agency’s Juno probe during its 54th close flyby of the gas giant last month.
It captures Jupiter’s moody clouds forming a rather unusual pattern which creates the appearance of contorted eyes, nose and a mouth.
Half of the image is in darkness on the planet’s night side, which NASA said only adds to the creepiness because it makes the face seem as though it is peering out from behind a door.
‘Just in time for Halloween, NASA’s Juno mission spots eerie “face” on Jupiter,’ the space agency added.
Creepy: With Halloween fast approaching, NASA has joined in with the spooky shenanigans by releasing a new image of a ghoulish looking ‘face’ on Jupiter
It captures Jupiter’s moody clouds forming a rather unusual pattern which creates the appearance of contorted eyes, nose and a mouth
It is not the first time Juno has produced such an image.
The views it gets of Jupiter’s clouds from circling high above the largest planet in our solar system often leads to the so-called phenomenon of pareidolia.
This is where the human brain wants to make sense of what the eyes see so creates a meaning which isn’t real.
An example is perceiving faces in largely random patterns.
These particular despondent ‘facial features’ were spotted by citizen scientist Vladimir Tarasov, who noticed the unusual shapes in Jupiter’s storm clouds.
Oblong dark eyes are framed by clouds that form what look like an eyebrow and a squished nose, complete with nostrils and a sad smile.
NASA said it resembled a Cubist portrait with ‘multiple perspectives of a face’.
The space agency released the image on October 25, to coincide with what would have been Picasso’s 142nd birthday.
Tarasov created the picture using raw data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam instrument.
It captures the gas giant’s turbulent clouds and storms along its terminator — which is the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet.
At the time the raw image was taken, the Juno probe was about 4,800 miles (around 7,700 km) above Jupiter’s cloud tops.
The aim of its mission is to study the composition of Jupiter, while also assessing its polar magnetosphere, gravity field and magnetic field.
On top of this, Juno has been monitoring the gas giant’s turbulent atmosphere, its weather, and aspects of the planet’s moons.
Orbiter: It is not the first time NASA’s spacecraft Juno (pictured in an artist’s impression) has produced such an image. The views it gets of Jupiter’s clouds from circling high above the largest planet in our solar system often leads to the so-called phenomenon of pareidolia
Its mission was originally scheduled to conclude in July 2021, only to be extended until September 2025 — or until the end of the spacecraft’s life if that comes first.
Juno reached Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile (2.8 billion km) journey from Earth.
Following a successful braking manoeuvre, it entered into a long polar orbit flying to within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of the planet’s swirling cloud tops.
No previous spacecraft has orbited so close to Jupiter but two others have been sent plunging to their destruction through its atmosphere.
When Juno’s mission finishes, the probe will be guided down into the gas giant’s atmosphere until it disintegrates.
But until then, the hope is that it can keep producing weird and wonderful pictures like this one.