Fact Check

Does This Pic Show What Jupiter's Southern Pole Looks Like?

The images prompted comparisons to dosa, an Indian crepe.

Published Aug. 26, 2021

 (Screenshot, Reddit post)
Image courtesy of Screenshot, Reddit post
An image shows what Jupiter would look like if viewed from its south pole.

The image is a combination of a number of images taken of Jupiter's south pole by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The image contains colors that are "close to" what the human eye would see from that vantage point, per NASA.

In late August 2021, Reddit users admired an image showing Jupiter at an angle that isn't usually seen. Some commenters observed that the image looked more like dosa, an Indian crepe.

Although the post contains a real NASA image of Jupiter's south pole, taken by the Cassini spacecraft, it doesn't show a single photograph that depicts what the human eye would see from Cassini's vantage point. Instead, NASA notes that the image is a map, and the colors in the image are "close to" what the human eye would see:

The maps are composed of 36 images: a pair of images covering Jupiter's northern and southern hemispheres was acquired in two colors every hour for nine hours as Jupiter rotated beneath the spacecraft. Although the raw images are in just two colors, 750 nanometers (near-infrared) and 451 nanometers (blue), the map's colors are close to those the human eye would see when gazing at Jupiter.

The image is one of a series taken in 2000 by Cassini and published by NASA in 2006. According to NASA, it is "stereographic," meaning it projects a sphere onto a plane and "show the north or south pole in the center of the map and the equator at the edge."


NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Cassini’s Best Maps of Jupiter (South Polar Map).” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 27 March 2006, https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/cassinis-best-maps-of-jupiter-south-polar-map.
Venugopal, Nikhita. “How the Dosa Came to Stand in for South India on American Menus.” Eater, 11 Oct. 2018, https://www.eater.com/2018/10/11/17883830/dosa-history-south-indian-restaurants-in-america.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more