Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cool Jupiter Pictures

NASA's New Horizons probe to Pluto (our fastest ever space probe) has just passed Jupiter, and used the big planet's gravity to boost its speed. The flyby added 9,000 miles per hour, pushing the velocity of New Horizons past 50,000 miles per hour and setting up a flight by Pluto in July 2015. While it was there though, it took some amazing pictures, including Europa rising over Jupiter:

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

...and the most detailed picture ever of the Little Red Spot:

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Also from the article:
Under a range of lighting and viewing angles, New Horizons also grabbed the clearest images ever of the tenuous Jovian ring system. In them, scientists spotted a series of unexpected arcs and clumps of dust, indicative of a recent impact into the ring by a small object.

Movies made from New Horizons images also provide an unprecedented look at ring dynamics, with the tiny inner moons Metis and Adrastea appearing to shepherd the materials around the rings. (Scroll to the middle of this page to see the movies.)

"We're starting to see that rings can evolve rapidly, with changes detectable during weeks and months," said Jeff Moore, New Horizons Jupiter Encounter science team lead from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "We've seen similar phenomena in the rings of Saturn."
Cool!

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