During its 54th flight, NASAJuno took a picture of JupiterJet N7 area, revealing turbulent clouds and the planet’s separator. This image, processed by Vladimir Tarasov, aroused the interest of scientists and demonstrated the effects of pareidolia.
Juno’s stunning capture of Jupiter’s northern region
On September 7, 2023, during its 54th flyby of Jupiter, NASA’s Juno mission captured this view of the giant planet’s northernmost region called Jet N7. The image shows turbulent clouds and storms along Jupiter’s dividing line, the line dividing the day and night sides of the planet. The low angle of sunlight highlights the complex topography of features in this region, which scientists have studied to better understand the processes occurring in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Pareidolia in Jupiter’s clouds
As often happens in Juno views, Jupiter’s clouds in this image lend themselves to pareidolia, an effect that causes observers to perceive faces or other patterns in largely random patterns.
Image processing by a citizen scientist
Citizen scientist Vladimir Tarasov created this image using raw data from the JunoCam instrument. At the time the initial image was taken, the Juno spacecraft was about 4,800 miles (about 7,700 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of about 69 degrees north.
Overview of pareidolia
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind perceives a familiar pattern or image, often a face, in a random or unrelated visual stimulus. This interesting feature of human perception is why people see animal shapes in the clouds, recognize a man’s face on the moon, or even see Jesus on a piece of toast.
The human mind is programmed to recognize faces; It is an evolutionary trait that has helped humans recognize and communicate with other humans. The ability to recognize a face is so deeply ingrained that our minds often fill in the gaps when we are presented with incomplete or ambiguous visual data, leading us to see faces where there is none.
But pareidolia is not limited to faces. It can extend to hearing phantom sounds in random noise. For example, some may claim to hear indistinct sounds in the sound of a fan or see patterns in the random arrangement of tiles.
This phenomenon can be found throughout history and has influenced many areas of culture, from religious scenes to the arts. Regardless of the context, pareidolia serves as a fascinating reminder of the brain’s powerful and sometimes deceptive pattern-recognition abilities.
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