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Jupiter’s brown spot sparks potty humor

Jupiter cloud system
This cloud formation on Jupiter is called “Mr. Hankey.” (NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Kevin M. Gill)

Jupiter’s titanic storms have spawned their share of memorable cloud features, including the Great Red SpotOval BA (a.k.a. Red Jr.) and the now-defunct Baby Red Spot. Now there’s a new spot on the map, nicknamed “Mr. Hankey.”

Mr. Hankey? The jolly cartoon poo made famous in a “South Park” Christmas episode?

Believe it: The longish, brownish storm system was the star of the show during last Thursday’s close encounter involving Jupiter and NASA’s Juno orbiter. In the days since the encounter, known as Perijove 15, the probe has been sending back Junocam’s imagery for processing by a legion of professional and amateur astronomers.

It was Kevin Gill, a software engineer and self-described data wrangler at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who gave the spot its “South Park” sobriquet in a tweet. But if you want to call the scene Jet N4, that’s OK, too.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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