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JOVIAN DREAMS
Looking Back at the Jupiter Crash 20 Years Later
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jul 21, 2014


NASA's Galileo spacecraft captured these four views of Jupiter as the last of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's large fragments struck the planet. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Twenty years ago, human and robotic eyes observed the first recorded impact between cosmic bodies in the solar system, as fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Between July 16 and July 22, 1994, space- and Earth-based assets managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, joined an armada of other NASA and international telescopes, straining to get a glimpse of the historic event:

+ NASA's Galileo spacecraft, still a year-and-a-half out from its arrival at Jupiter, had a unique view of fireballs that erupted from Jupiter's southern hemisphere as the comet fragments struck.

+ NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, using the JPL-developed and -built Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, observed the comet and the impact scars it left on Jupiter.

+ The giant radio telescopes of NASA's Deep Space Network -- which perform radio and radar astronomy research in addition to their communications functions -- were tasked with observing radio emissions from Jupiter's radiation belt, looking for disturbances caused by comet dust.

+ NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, then about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from Jupiter, observed the impacts with its ultraviolet spectrometer and a planetary radio astronomy instrument.

+ The Ulysses spacecraft also made observations during the comet impact from about 500 million miles (800 million kilometers) away. Ulysses observed radio transmissions from Jupiter with its combined radio wave and plasma wave instrument.

The work of scientists in studying the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact raised awareness about the potential for asteroid impacts on Earth and the need for predicting them ahead of time, important factors in the formation of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office.

The NEO Program Office coordinates NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach Earth.

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Related Links
More information about the Shoemaker-Levy9 impact
Jupiter and its Moons
Explore The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
News Flash at Mercury






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JOVIAN DREAMS
Models suggest stretching forces shaped Ganymede's surface
San Antonio TX (SPX) Jul 09, 2014
Processes that shaped the ridges and troughs on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede are likely similar to tectonic processes seen on Earth, according to a team of researchers led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). To arrive at this conclusion, the team subjected physical models made of clay to stretching forces that simulate tectonic action. The results were published in Geophysical ... read more


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