Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Fragment W Impact With Jupiter

These four images of Jupiter and the luminous night-side impact of fragment W of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 were taken by the Galileo spacecraft on July 22, 1994. The spacecraft was 238 million kilometers (148 million miles) from Jupiter at the time, and 621 million kilometers from Earth. The spacecraft was about 40 degrees from Earth's line of sight to Jupiter, permitting this direct view. The images were taken at intervals of 2 1/3 seconds, using the green filter (visible light). The first image, taken at an equivalent time to 8:06:10 Greenwich Mean Time (1:06 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time), shows no impact. In the next three images, a point of light appears, brightens so much as to saturate its picture element, and then fades again, seven seconds after the first picture. The location is approximately 44 degrees south as predicted, dark spots to the right are from previous impacts. Jupiter is approximately 60 picture elements in diameter.

Image credit: NASA/JPL

Note: For more information, see Looking Back at the Jupiter Crash 20 Years Later.

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