Spooky clouds that swirl over Alaska's Aleutian Islands look as if they came from Jupiter — and it turns out that the same phenomenon is at work on both planets.
This satellite view, captured by Landsat 7 in 2002, shows the pattern of atmospheric eddies that's characteristic of a "Karman vortex street."On Earth, these powerful chains of swirls arise when air flows over and around objects in its path. The Landsat 7 image is color-coded to indicate temperature variations and the size of raindrops in low-altitude clouds as they sweep over the Aleutians. On Jupiter, such vortices are generated by turbulence in the bands of clouds whipping around the giant planet.
The overhead view of the Aleutian vortices is one of more than 150 satellite images in "Earth From Space," a coffee-table book by environmentalist-photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, founder of the GoodPlanet Foundation. We've already featured a couple of the book'spictures in our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which focuses on satellite views of our home planet during the month of December.
For more holiday goodies, check out The Atlantic's Hubble Advent Calendar, Zooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar. And don't forget our Year in Space slideshow.
Previously on the Space Advent Calendar:
- Day 21: A scientific slant on winter's start
- Day 20: Christmas tree? No, it's Iceland
- Day 19: Japan's baby island is here to stay
- Day 18: Red and green lights glow in space
- Day 17: A child's face, visible from space
- Day 16: Where the Middle East's snow shows
- Day 15: Snaky Colorado river tricks the eye
- Day 14: A space farewell to Nelson Mandela
- Day 13: Happy St. Lucy's Day from space
- Day 12: Island of Love needs healing
- Day 11: A fractal puzzle, seen from space
- Day 10: London and Paris light the night
- Day 9: 'Starry Night' at sea
- Day 8: Mount Etna makes its mark
- Day 7: Staring down into Mount Vesuvius
- Day 6: Grand Canyon, seen and unseen
- Day 5: NASA salutes Nelson Mandela
- Day 4: Twin volcanoes act up in the Pacific
- Day 3: Syria's medieval marvel marred
- Day 2: Where the rain in Spain goes
- Day 1: Farewell, Earth ... Hello, Mars!
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.