Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hubble Zooms In On Jupiter Impact

The Hubble Space Telescope, still undergoing testing after the last servicing mission back in May, was used to take a photograph of the impact site on Jupiter discovered by Anthony Wesley.

In this first science image returned from Hubble after the servicing mission, the remains of the impact in Jupiter's atmosphere are clearly visible. The blot is seen to be losing its cohesion compared with earlier photos. This smearing effect is being driven by wind in Jupiter's atmosphere.

The image was taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on Hubble. Calibration of the camera is still in progress -- this science observation interrupted the full system checkout of Hubble that has been in progress since the shuttle Atlantis left the telescope.

Current estimates suggest that the impacting body, a comet or asteroid, was several hundred meters in diameter. The energy released was thousands of times greater than that released by the comet or asteroid that precipitated the Tunguska event in Siberia a century ago.
Image Credit above: NASA/ESA/Heidi Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO), and the Jupiter Impact Team

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