Aurora


IDL TIFF fileThis isn’t a picture of the Earth. It’s Jupiter as seen in ultraviolet light by the Hubble Space Telescope. Just as on Earth, Jupiter’s aurorae are curtains of light resulting from high energy electrons following the planet’s magnetic field into the upper atmosphere. Collisions with atmospheric atoms and molecules produce the observed light.

Image Credit: NASA

A Day in a Life …


… of Jupiter. A collection of Hubble images taken in 2007 was used to assemble this full, even coverage of Jupiter. The resulting mosaic has been mapped onto a sphere, and one full rotation is presented in the visualization.

Video Credit: NASA

 

The Not-So-Giant Red Spot


HubbleJGRS_900The most prominent feature on Jupiter is a storm called the Giant Red Spot. The most recent Hubble observations measure the spot to be about 16,500 km across. That’s the smallest ever measured by Hubble and big decrease from the 23,300 km measured by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys in 1979. Telescopic observations during the 19th-century indicated a width of about 41,000 lm on its long axis. Current indications are that the rate of shrinking is increasing for the long-lived storm.

Image Credit: NASA

Io’s True Colors


io_truecolorJupiter’s moon Io is one of the weirdest in the Solar System. It’s bright yellow, and this picture is an attempt to show how Io would appear to the average human eye. Io’s colors derive from sulfur and molten silicate rock. The moon’s is constantly being refreshed by a system of active volcanoes. Tides caused by Jupiter’s gravity stretch Io, and the resulting friction greatly heats Io’s interior, causing molten rock to explode through the surface. Io’s volcanoes are so active that they are effectively turning the whole moon inside out. Some of Io’s volcanic lava is so hot it glows in the dark.

Image Credit: NASA

Planetary Rings


RingsThese belong to Jupiter, not Saturn. The ring system of Jupiter was imaged by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996. This image the west ansa (the edge of a ring system) of Jupiter’s main ring has a resolution of 24 km per pixel. Plotting the brightness of ring from the inner-most edge of the image to the outer-most through the thickest part of the ring, shows the “dips” in brightness caused by perturbations from satellites. Two small satellites, Adrastea and Metis, which are not seen in this image, orbit through the outer portion of the ansa much like the small moon that shepherd Saturn’s rings.

Image Credit: NASA