One can’t deny that learning something new can often be a great experience. Through the years, people have shown a high degree of fascination for the unknown and would dedicate much of their time uncovering many of the world’s mysteries. Thanks to the many breakthroughs and innovations in science and technology, we have since gained more and more knowledge about this blue planet we call Earth, our home. However, the journey of discovery doesn’t end just there.

Like the lands and the seas, we have all been curious about what lies beyond the skies. To this day, companies such as NASA continue observing and researching the many things in store in the great unknown. Among the many findings researchers have made along the way, there’s one particular occurrence on a nearby celestial body worth noting. Well, without further ado, let’s take a look at this spectacle that took place on the gas giant called Jupiter, shall we?


To go with their research, NASA has spent incredible amounts of investment money getting the right tools and apparatus for their researchers. One such item is the Juno spacecraft, which has since accumulated a cost of $1.46 billion – and that’s just to keep operations going until 2022. For its price, though, it’s safe to say Juno has proven to be quite useful for our journey to understanding the world beyond our skies.

Since its launch in mid-2011, Juno has been tasked to observe and provide data regarding the planet Jupiter, such as how it came to be, its gravitational field, and its magnetic field. It has also provided plenty of high-quality images of the planet, giving us to have a more detailed glimpse of the lovely giant. With that said, among these images include an interesting occurrence that was captured recently – a show of bright and flashing lights, known as sprites and elves, spreading across the planet’s surface.

What Are Sprites And Elves?

Seeing flashing lights of electricity called lightning is a normal sight to see here on Earth, especially during the rainy seasons. Over the years, scientists have discovered several types of lightning, one of which is known as dark lightning, which is reportedly capable of producing antimatter. In the meantime, however, let’s focus on two kinds that got their names from mythical creatures: sprites and elves.

At this point, we’re all aware of the numerous myths told throughout history, so it would come as no surprise that we’ve heard about sprites and elves. In the world of science, however, they’re not mystical creatures. Sprites often appear during thunderstorms and are composed of cold plasma. From their round, blobby center, they extend tendril-looking streaks of light toward space, though they sometimes also descend a few kilometers above the ground. Meanwhile, elves look like giant donuts of light that form when electromagnetic pulses reach the ionosphere, appearing simultaneously with sprites. Although these phenomena are usually spotted on Earth, recent studies have shown that they can also happen on other planets.

Jupiter And Its Very Own Light Show

Back to mythology for a bit; the name Jupiter is also associated with the Roman god of the sky, thunder, and lightning, the equivalent of the Greek god, Zeus. No wonder NASA appropriately named the gas giant’s spacecraft Juno, the Roman god’s wife who is known to the Greeks as Hera. Well, to add to its mystical roots, the spacecraft has recently spotted a series of what appears to be sprites and elves spreading across an area of Jupiter’s surface.

Although it’s still uncertain if they were sprites, elves, or even both, the sight was more than enough to convince researchers of one thing. These atmospheric events can help them understand various aspects of the planet. Not only that, but it has also provided them a reference on what to look for when studying certain behaviors of other planets, including Earth.

Like many journeys that came before, this one begins with a series of small steps, which will undoubtedly be followed by a great leap in the future. With that said, a journey may not be quick and easy, but in the end, it’s safe to say that all the investments made along the way will surely be worth it.

Photo Credits:
Cover – NASA,
Photo #1 – NASA / JPL-Caltech via,
Photo #2 – NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI
Photo #3 – YouTube / Paul Jando