Jupiter is a bloody work of art. The King of the Roman gods, that’s where its name derived from. It’s so enormous, over 1,300 Earths could fit into it. There’s the Great Red Spot spiralling around on its surface – a storm that’s raged for at least 188 years – that’s 1.3 times wider than Earth. It’s a broiling mass of madness, pelting staggering fields of radiation millions of miles into the Universe… but it’s also a work of art.
As the respected Jupiter experts we are, even we have to admit NASA has us beaten on this one. You can visit its extensive Jupiter information and gallery pages for more information about the gas giant. NASA currently has the Juno probe touring around Jupiter, which has been beaming back some disturbingly miraculous images of its complexities. This includes an artistic integrity 139,822 km wide.
What we’re doing is highlighting the breathtaking beauty of this morbidly obese planet. Part of our fascination for it is to do with human history. As it’s so enormous in the night sky, humans have been able to monitor it since ancient times. Babylonian astronemers were keeping a watchful eye on it from circa 7th century BC.
By 1610, Galileo Galilei was able to make out four moons orbiting the gas giant (NASA has recently discovered 12 more of them, meaning there are at least 79 that are known right now, which includes the enigmatic, ice-covered Io). But humans didn’t get a proper good look at it until the Voyager space probes in the 1970s.
Technology has moved on a great deal since then. Juno is now packed out with all manner of technological wonders, which has led to a new archive of images to document Jupiter’s various spectacular sights. Revelations about Jupiter’s poles, for instance, have led to some of the most jaw dropping imagery from space ever. Swirling masses of clouds that are analogous to watercolour brushstrokes.
But Jupiter is mental – an inhospitable mass of radioactive lunacy. For NASA, the challenge has been to (not just get a probe to Jupiter, which is further away from Earth than we are to the Sun), but to survive the waves of radiation it pelts out around it. This is why we love the place – so mysterious, violent, yet rather exquisite looking. We’ll never visit there, we’re pretty sure of that, but we’ll keep one watchful eye on it for the rest of our lives.