Jupiter is in the news again, this time because its "Baby Red Spot" - a storm less than a year old - appears to have been swallowed up by the massive storm known as the Great Red Spot. This is good occasion to share some of the best photographs of Jupiter and its larger system of rings and moons, as seen by various probes and telescopes over the past 30 years. (16 photos total)

Jupiter's moon Io floats above the cloudtops of Jupiter in this image captured January 1, 2001. The image is deceiving: there are 350,000 kilometers - roughly 2.5 Jupiters - between Io and Jupiter's clouds. Io is about the size of our own moon (NASA/JPL/Universit y of Arizona)

This image of Jupiter's moon Europa rising above Jupiter was captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in February just after it passed Jupiter on its way to Pluto and the outer Solar System. (NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI)

The gibbous phase of Jupiter's moon Europa. The robot spacecraft Galileo captured this image mosaic during its mission orbiting Jupiter from 1995 - 2003. Evidence and images from the Galileo spacecraft, indicated that liquid oceans might exist below the icy surface. (Galileo Project, JPL, NASA; reprocessed by Ted Stryk)

This view of the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa, is a mosaic of two pictures taken by the Solid State Imaging system on board the Galileo spacecraft during a close flyby of Europa on February 20, 1997. The area shown is about 14 kilometers by 17 kilometers (8.7 miles by 10.6 miles), and has a resolution of 20 meters (22 yards) per pixel. One of the youngest features seen in this area is the double ridge cutting across the picture from the lower left to the upper right. This double ridge is about 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) wide and stands some 300 meters (330 yards) high. (NASA/JPL/ASU)

A composite of several images taken in several colors by the New Horizons Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera, or MVIC, illustrating the diversity of structures in Jupiter's atmosphere, in colors similar to what someone "riding" on New Horizons would see. It was taken near the terminator, the boundary between day and night, and shows relatively small-scale, turbulent, whirlpool-like structures near the south pole of the planet. The dark "holes" in this region are actually places where there is very little cloud cover, so sunlight is not reflected back to the camera. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwes t Research Institute)

This image, acquired during Galileo's ninth orbit around Jupiter, shows two volcanic plumes on Io. One plume was captured on the bright limb or edge of the moon, erupting over a caldera (volcanic depression) named Pillan Patera. The plume seen by Galileo is 140 kilometers (86 miles) high, and was also detected by the Hubble Space Telescope. The second plume, seen near the terminator, the boundary between day and night, is called Prometheus. The shadow of the airborne plume can be seen extending to the right of the eruption vent. (NASA/JPL/Universit y of Arizona)

A part of the southern hemisphere of Io, seen by the spacecraft Voyager at a range of 74,675 km. In the foreground is gently undulating topography, while in the back-ground are two mountains with their near faces brightly illuminated by the sun. The mountain in the right is approximately 150 km across at its base and its height is probably in excess of 15 km which would make it higher than any mountain on Earth. (NASA/JPL)

This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from Io's Tvashtar volcano. Snapped by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter earlier this year, this first-ever "movie" of an Io plume clearly shows motion in the cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 kilometers (200 miles) above the moon's surface. Only the upper part of the plume is visible from this vantage point - the plume's source is 130 kilometers (80 miles) below the edge of Io's disk, on the far side of the moon. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwes t Research Institute)

A volcanic plume rises over 300 kilometers above the horizon of Jupiter's moon Io in this image from cameras onboard the New Horizons spacecraft. The volcano, Tvashtar, is marked by the bright glow (about 1 o'clock) at the moon's edge, beyond the terminator or night/day shadow line. The shadow of Io cuts across the plume itself. Also capturing stunning details on the dayside surface, the high resolution image was recorded when the spacecraft was 2.3 million kilometers from Io. Later it was combined with lower resolution color data by astro-imager Sean Walker to produce this sharp portrait of the solar system's most active moon. (NASA, JHU/APL, SwRI - Additional Processing: Sean Walker)

Jupiter's moon Io, seen by NASA's Galileo spacecraft against a backdrop of Jupiter's cloud tops, which appear blue in this false-color composite. (NASA/JPL/Universit y of Arizona)

A mosaic of Jupiter's ring system, acquired by NASA's Galileo spacecraft when the Sun was behind the planet, and the spacecraft was in Jupiter's shadow peering back toward the Sun. (NASA/JPL/Cornell University)

The first color movie of Jupiter from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows what it would look like to peel the entire globe of Jupiter, stretch it out on a wall into the form of a rectangular map, and watch its atmosphere evolve with time. The brief movie clip spans 24 Jupiter rotations between Oct. 31 and Nov. 9, 2000. The darker blips that appear are several moons and their shadows. (NASA/JPL/Universit y of Arizona)

An image of the leading hemisphere of Ganymede seen by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Many fragmented regions of dark terrain split by lanes of bright grooved terrain cover the surface. Several bright young craters can be seen, including a linear chain of craters near the center of the image which may have resulted from the impact of a fragmented comet, similar to comet Shoemaker-Levy/ 9 which hit Jupiter in 1994. (NASA/JPL/Brown University)

The area of Nicholson Regio and Arbela Sulcus illustrates many of the diverse terrain types on Jupiter's moon Ganymede, as seen in this image taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. The image covers an area approximately 89 by 26 kilometers (55by 16 miles). (NASA/JPL/Brown University)

Jupiter's Great Red seen by NASA's Voyager spacecraft. July, 1979 Around the northern boundary a white cloud is seen, which extends to east of the region. The presence of this cloud prevents small cloud vortices from circling the spot in the manner seen in the Voyager 1 encounter. Another white oval cloud (different from the one present in this position three months ago) is seen south of the Great Red Spot. This image was taken on July 6, 1979 from a range of 2,633,003 kilometers. The Red Spot is 20,000 km across. (NASA/JPL)

This true color mosaic of Jupiter was constructed from images taken by the narrow angle camera onboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft on December 29, 2000, as the spacecraft neared Jupiter during its flyby of the giant planet. It is the most detailed global color portrait of Jupiter ever produced. Although Cassini's camera can see more colors than humans can, Jupiter here looks the way that the human eye would see it. (NASA/JPL/SSI)

Sand. Made up of 25 percent silicon, is, after oxygen, the second most abundant chemical element that™s in the earth™s crust. Sand, especially quartz, has high percentages of silicon in the form of silicon dioxide (SiO2) and is the base ingredient for semiconductor manufacturing.

After procuring raw sand and separating the silicon, the excess material is disposed of and the silicon is purified in multiple steps to finally reach semiconductor manufacturing quality which is called electronic grade silicon. The resulting purity is so great that electronic grade silicon may only have one alien atom for every one billion silicon atoms. After the purification process, the silicon enters the melting phase. In this picture you can see how one big crystal is grown from the purified silicon melt. The resulting mono-crystal is called an ingot.

A mono-crystal ingot is produced from electronic grade silicon. One ingot weighs approximately 100 kilograms (or 220 pounds) and has a silicon purity of 99.9999 percent.

The ingot is then moved onto the slicing phase where individual silicon discs, called wafers, are sliced thin. Some ingots can stand higher than five feet. Several different diameters of ingots exist depending on the required wafer size. Today, CPUs are commonly made on 300 mm wafers.

Once cut, the wafers are polished until they have flawless, mirror-smooth surfaces. Intel doesn™t produce its own ingots and wafers, and instead purchases manufacturing-ready wafers from third-party companies. Intel™s advanced 45 nmHigh-K/Metal Gate process uses wafers with a diameter of 300 mm (or 12-inches). When Intel first began making chips, it printed circuits on 50 mm (2-inches) wafers. These days, Intel uses 300 mm wafers, resulting in decreased costs per chip.

The blue liquid, depicted above, is a photo resist finish similar to those used in film for photography. The wafer spins during this step to allow an evenly-distributed coating that™s smooth and also very thin.

At this stage, the photo-resistant finish is exposed to ultra violet (UV) light. The chemical reaction triggered by the UV light is similar to what happens to film material in a camera the moment you press the shutter button.
Areas of the resist on the wafer that have been exposed to UV light will become soluble. The exposure is done using masks that act like stencils. When used with UV light, masks create the various circuit patterns. The building of a CPU essentially repeats this process over and over until multiple layers are stacked on top of each other.
A lens (middle) reduces the mask™s image to a small focal point. The resulting œprint on the wafer is typically four times smaller, linearly, than the mask™s pattern.

In the picture we have a representation of what a single transistor would appear like if we could see it with the naked eye. A transistor acts as a switch, controlling the flow of electrical current in a computer chip. Intel researchers have developed transistors so small that they claim roughly 30 million of them could fit on the head of a pin..

After being exposed to UV light, the exposed blue photo resist areas are completely dissolved by a solvent. This reveals a pattern of photo resist made by the mask. The beginnings of transistors, interconnects, and other electrical contacts begin to grow from this point.

The photo resist layer protects wafer material that should not be etched away. Areas that were exposed will be etched away with chemicals.

After the etching, the photo resist is removed and the desired shape becomes visible.

More photo resist (blue) is applied and then re-exposed to UV light. Exposed photo resist is then washed off again before the next step, which is called ion doping. This is the step where ion particles are exposed to the wafer, allowing the silicon to change its chemical properties in a way that allows the CPU to control the flow of electricity..

Through a process called ion implantation (one form of a process called doping) the exposed areas of the silicon wafer are bombarded with ions. Ions are implanted in the silicon wafer to alter the way silicon in these areas conduct electricity. Ions are propelled onto the surface of the wafer at very high velocities. An electrical field accelerates the ions to a speed of over 300,000 km/hour (roughly 185,000 mph)

After the ion implantation, the photo resist will be removed and the material that should have been doped (green) now has alien atoms implanted.

This transistor is close to being finished. Three holes have been etched into the insulation layer (magenta color) above the transistor. These three holes will be filled with copper, which will make up the connections to other transistors.

The wafers are put into a copper sulphate solution at this stage. Copper ions are deposited onto the transistor through a process called electroplating. The copper ions travel from the positive terminal (anode) to the negative terminal (cathode) which is represented by the wafer.

The copper ions settle as a thin layer on the wafer surface.

The excess material is polished off leaving a very thin layer of copper.

Multiple metal layers are created to interconnects (think wires) in between the various transistors. How these connections have to be œwired is determined by the architecture and design teams that develop the functionality of the respective processor (for example, Intel™s Core i7 processor). While computer chips look extremely flat, they may actually have over 20 layers to form complex circuitry. If you look at a magnified view of a chip, you will see an intricate network of circuit lines and transistors that look like a futuristic, multi-layered highway system.

This fraction of a ready wafer is being put through a first functionality test. In this stage test patterns are fed into every single chip and the response from the chip monitored and compared to œthe right answer.

After tests determine that the wafer has a good yield of functioning processor units, the wafer is cut into pieces (called dies).

The dies that responded with the right answer to the test pattern will be put forward for the next step (packaging). Bad dies are discarded. Several years ago, Intel made key chains out of bad CPU dies.

This is an individual die, which has been cut out in the previous step (slicing). The die shown here is a die of an Intel Core i7 processor.

The substrate, the die, and the heatspreader are put together to form a completed processor. The green substrate builds the electrical and mechanical interface for the processor to interact with the rest of the PC system. The silver heatspreader is a thermal interface where a cooling solution will be applied. This will keep the processor cool during operation.

A microprocessor is the most complex manufactured product on earth. In fact, it takes hundreds of steps and only the most important ones have been visualized in this picture story.

During this final test the processors will be tested for their key characteristics (among the tested characteristics are power dissipation and maximum frequency).

Based on the test result of class testing processors with the same capabilities are put into the same transporting trays. This process is called œbinning. Binning determines the maximum operating frequency of a processor, and batches are divided and sold according to stable specifications.

The manufactured and tested processors (again Intel Core i7 processor is shown here) either go to system manufacturers in trays or into retail stores in a box. Many thanks to Intel for supplying the text and photos in this picture story. or full size images of this entire process.