Rings That Aren’t Saturn’s

RingsThese belong to Jupiter, not Saturn. The ring system of Jupiter was imaged by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996. This image of 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 moons that shepherd Saturn’s rings.

BTW, all four of the gas giant planets in the Solar System have rings.

Image Credit: NASA

Ganymede’s Shadow

During a close pass by Jupiter last February, the Juno spacecraft caught Ganymede’s shadow on the planet. The spacecraft was about 71,000 km above the cloud tops, only 6 to 7 % the distance between Jupiter and Ganymede.

An observer inside the oval shadow on Jupiter’s cloud tops would see a total eclipse of the Sun. Jupiter has four large moons (Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa) that often pass between Jupiter and the Sun, so the moon shadows are often fall on the planet.

Image Credit—
Data: NASA / JPL / SwRI / MSSS
Image processing: Thomas Thomopoulos © CC BY

When a Comet Hit Jupiter

Shoemaker-LevyHubble witnessed the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994. This is a composite photo assembled from separate images of Jupiter and the comet. The comet had broken up into at least 21 separate fragments. When fragment G struck Jupiter, the impact created a giant dark spot roughly the same diameter as the Earth and was estimated to have released an energy equivalent to 6,000,000 megatons of TNT (600X the Earth’s entire nuclear arsenal).

SMOD and then some.

Image Credit: NASA

Jupiter in Infrared

This false color view from the JWST’s NIRCam instrument’s 2.12 micron filter shows the distinct bands that encircle Jupiter and the planet’s Great Red Spot. The iconic spot appears white in this image because of the way the infrared image was processed. The moon Europa is visible on the left, and its shadow can be seen to the left of the Great Red Spot.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA / CSA/ STScI

Io, Io, It’s Off to Pluto We Go!

A plume rises from a volcano over Jupiter’s moon Io in this image taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. The volcano Tvashtar is marked by the bright glow  at the moon’s edge, beyond the day/night shadow line. The shadow of Io cuts across the plume itself. The image was recorded when the spacecraft was 2.3 million km from Io during a slingshot maneuver around Jupiter which provided a boost in the New Horizons‘ velocity for the spacecraft’s encounter Pluto in 2015 and the Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth in 2019.

Image Credit: NASA

Listening to Ganymede

This animation provides auditory and visual presentations of data collected by the Juno spacecraft’s Waves instrument during a flyby of the Jovian moon Ganymede. The animation is shorter than the duration of the flyby because the Waves data is edited onboard to reduce telemetry requirements.

The abrupt change to higher frequencies around the midpoint of the recording occurs as the spacecraft moves from one region of Ganymede’s magnetosphere to another. The actual frequency range of the data is from 10 to 50 kHz. The animation audio has been shifted to a lower range audible to human ears.

Video Credit: NASA


Callisto is the one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the second largest. Its surface is old, showing the highest coverage by impact craters of any large body in the Solar System, but it has no volcanoes or large mountains. Callisto’s surface is one large ice-field, littered with cracksand craters from billions of years of collisions. This picture was taken in 2001 by the Galileo spacecraft.

Image Credit: NASA