Does the time-lapse video show Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter?
On January 28, 2022, a Reddit user posted a video on the r/Damntthatsinteresting subreddit with the caption “Timelapse of Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter captured by Cassini probe”.
It is true that it was a real time-lapse video created with several still photographs. It wasn’t animation or any kind of gimmicky visual effects or CGI work.
The video was created by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA-JPL) scientist Kevin M. Gill combining what appeared to be hundreds of images of Jupiter great red spot and two of its four moons, Europa and Io, brought down by the Cassini spacecraft on the Cassini-Huygens Mission. (The planets two more moons not shown were Ganymede and Callisto.)
People seemed to like the Europa/Io/Titan gifs, so as an experiment I went to make a short video of them. The Voyage of the Moons.
— Kevin M. Gill (@kevinmgill) October 22, 2018
On Flickr, Gill said the video, which he titled “Voyage of the Moons,” really showed Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. According to its caption, the second half of the video showed “Titan as it passes over Saturn and its side rings.”
We asked Gill several questions about the video of Europa, Io and Jupiter, including one of the most popular Reddit comments, which claims“You don’t see the moons moving to the right as much as you see [the spacecraft] Cassini moving left.
In response, Gill told us, “The motion isn’t quite right because I made it prettier than it was correct. But it is meant to represent the motion visible from a spacecraft that is moving at a faster speed than the orbiting moons. So, from a stationary point of view, Io would be moving faster than Europa.
We were also curious to know how much time had passed in the video posted on Reddit (the first half of the Twitter and Flickr videos). “Oh, I’m not sure. It would be a few hours of motion depicted,” Gill said. “Movements and wind speeds of belts, zones and GRS are more or less arbitrary and simulated.”
“The stills are from early January 2001 when Cassini received a gravity push from Jupiter en route to Saturn,” he told us. Here’s what an unmodified image captured by Cassini looked like three months later:
In sum, yes, the time-lapse video posted on Reddit really showed photographs of Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter above the Great Red Spot. The video was slightly edited to look “prettier than it was correct”, according to a NASA-JPL scientist, but basically it was real.
Curious to know how the writers of Snopes verify information and craft their stories for public consumption? We’ve put together a few posts that help explain how we do what we do. Happy reading and let us know what else you would like to know.
“Europe”. NASA Solar System Explorationhttps://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/jupiter-moons/europa/in-depth.
Greicius, Tony. “Cassini”. NasaJanuary 20, 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html.
Hille, Karl. “Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: A Swirling Mystery.” NasaAugust 4, 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/jupiter-s-great-red-spot-a-swirling-mystery.
KaamDeveloper. “Timelapse of Europa and Io orbiting Jupiter captured by the Cassini spacecraft.” r/Damn it’s interesting on RedditJanuary 28, 2022, https://www.reddit.com/r/Damntthatsinteresting/comments/sepek7/timelapse_of_europa_and_io_orbiting_jupiter/.
“Kevin M. Gill.” Twitterhttps://twitter.com/kevinmgill/.
“Overview | Cassini. NASA Solar System Explorationhttps://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/cassini/overview.
“This is our best look at the most volcanic object in the solar system.” National geographicJuly 18, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/most-volcanic-world-in-solar-system-io-moon-still-mysterious-new-atlas-shows.
Zimmerman, Kim Ann. “Io: Facts About Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon.” Space.comAugust 13, 2018, https://www.space.com/16419-io-facts-about-jupiters-volcanic-moon.html.