What We Love This Week, Volume CXXXI

Jupiter Closeup Swirling Clouds

Jupiter’s high-altitude photographed from a distance of 1.4 million miles on February 28, 2007. Source: The Atlantic

Before Pluto: The Other Awe-Inspiring New Horizons Photos

Jupiter Moons Shadows

Two of Jupiter’s largest moons, the volcanic Io (left) and the icy Ganymede (right), photographed from a distance of 42.5 million miles on January 17, 2007. Source: The Atlantic

While you’ve definitely seen the new Pluto photos and you probably know that those photos are the fruit of the New Horizons’ nearly ten-year journey, you may not realize all that happened along the way. It zipped past our moon (within nine hours of launch), flew close by a 1.6-mile wide asteroid (that just happened to be in its path), and crossed the orbit of every planet between here and Pluto.

Chief among those planetary confrontations was Jupiter, which New Horizons photographed from late 2006 to mid-2007. And perhaps it’s just that Jupiter is our solar system’s largest planet or that it’s orbited by dozens of moons (one of the largest of which has over 400 volcanoes) or that it’s shrouded in swirling clouds, but these photos might just be the most stunning ones that New Horizons captured. For more under-the-radar images from the New Horizons mission, visit The Atlantic.

Jupiter Moons Io Europa

A 190-mile high volcanic plume erupts from Io (right, with two smaller volcanic plumes also visible), alongside Europa (left), another of Jupiter’s largest moons, both photographed from a distance of about 2.5 million miles on March 2, 2007. Source: The Atlantic

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Canada’s Spotted Lake Is Seriously Out Of This World

Imagine a lake that features what seems to be oversized confetti on its surface. Now imagine that the color of the confetti changes with lake conditions–and that the lake is found in a desert…in Canada. That’s Canada’s Spotted Lake in a nutshell, and it’s one of the most surreal things we’ve seen in a long time.

The odd collection of puddle-like bodies of water changes colors based on the presence and concentration of minerals in the water. Sometimes the large “puddles” are clear, and at other times they are yellow, green or blue–though rarely as blue as the Potash evaporation ponds.

Kliluk Lake

Source: Avax News

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What We Love This Week, Volume CXXIX

Forest Fire Aerial Smoke

June 7: Smoke rises from the Bogus Creek Fire, one of two fires in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. Source: The Atlantic

Wildfires Rage In The West

Forest Fire Silhouette Glow

June 13: Flames consume dry vegetation at the Saddle Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Hyampom, California. Sparked by lightning, the wildfire scorched more than 1,500 acres in drought-parched Northern California. Source: The Atlantic

While wildfire season is far from over, the West Coast and Alaska have already suffered devastating blows. With a record 700 fires to date this year, Alaska has taken the largest hit, losing over 1.8 million acres. Although higher temperatures and lower humidity are to blame, the astounding number of lightning strikes (6,000-10,000 bolts per day) may be the major culprit. Elsewhere, California, Oregon, and Washington have lost thousands of acres. As total acreage lost has surged in the last two decades, many climate change experts warn that things will only get worse. Survey the damage at The Atlantic.

Wildfire Smoke Plume Cloud

June 18: A smoke plume from the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest is seen at sunset, rising over the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs, California. About 500 firefighters have been battling this 7,500-acre fire, which is still only 5% contained. Source: The Atlantic

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This Is The Last Thing You’d Expect To See Within A Sinkhole

Inside Chinese Sinkhole

Source: Song Wen/Zuma Press

Sinkholes are a relatively commonplace occurrence in China, but what emerged from one in the Hubei province is certainly not. Thanks in part to the karst formations, if you take a peek into the 317-yard-deep gash you’ll find a home to an array of flora and fauna. That’s right: the hole has given way to an ecosystem.

Head to The Wall Street Journal to learn more about the life teeming within the sinkhole.

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