Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jupiter's amazing Red Spot

NASA handout / Getty images
The latest news about the Juno space probe (see my last two posts, Juno's mission to Jupter and Juno's science instruments) is that it recently flew over Jupiter's giant red spot and took amazing images of the storm it represents. An article in The Guardian reports the news using very enthusiastic language.

The headline is "Jupiter's great red spot: Juno probe captures closest images yet of huge storm." The phrasing "closest ... yet" and "huge storm" reveals the importance of the development, and this phrasing continues in the article.

Link to the article:

Here are some of the examples in the text that indicate the journalist and the people interviewed see this event as a great experience (with my emphasis):
  • captured stunning images
  • the huge storm
  • not only the size of the tempest but also its extraordinary colour
  • stunning detail
  • vast, swirling feature
  • the beauty of them
  • works of natural art
  • the closest a spacecraft has ever flown
  • great red spot
  • passing as close as
  • the giant storm
  • probe fundamental questions
  • and even the nature of the great red spot itself
  • a lot of mysteries
  • This is actually really neat
  • will particularly allow us to look and see what is underneath
  • in particular we want to
  • we get a little more insight
Students can be made aware of these examples to see how subjective language can be included in writing that is reporting news (objectively?).

Further examples of such language is even found on NASA's website.

The first sentence of the article about Juno's flyby over Jupiter's red spot is:

"Images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark, veinous clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval."

Doesn't that sound rather poetic for a space agency? I plan to share this with my engineering students to see how they react - and then show them some of the images so that they can write their own descriptions.

The Guardian article indicates that "Nasa releases raw data to public, enabling citizen scientists and experts to share their own processed versions of the images."

One of the "citizen scientists" who processed images is Jason Major, a graphic designer from Rhode Island, USA. His comment on the NASA website:

"It is always exciting to see these new raw images of Jupiter as they arrive. But it is even more thrilling to take the raw images and turn them into something that people can appreciate. That is what I live for."

That is certainly enthusiastic!

I like the idea of enabling my students to see what passion they can have for their interests and professional field - and this material enables them to see what language can be used to express that passion.

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