Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NASA Jupiter Images: Turmoil From Below, Battering From Above

Images in the visible-light and infrared parts of the spectrum highlight the massive changes roiling the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Image credit: NASA/IRTF/JPL-Caltech/NAOJ/A. Wesley/A. Kazemoto/C. Go

Jupiter, the mythical god of sky and thunder, would certainly be pleased at all the changes afoot at his namesake planet.

As the planet gets peppered continually with small space rocks, wide belts of the atmosphere are changing colour, hotspots are vanishing and reappearing, and clouds are gathering over one part of Jupiter, while dissipating over another.

The results were presented today by Glenn Orton, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting in Reno, Nev.

"The changes we're seeing in Jupiter are global in scale," Orton said. "We've seen some of these before, but never with modern instrumentation to clue us in on what's going on."

"Other changes haven't been seen in decades, and some regions have never been in the state they're appearing in now."

"At the same time, we've never seen so many things striking Jupiter. Right now, we're trying to figure out why this is all happening."

The Jupiter team have been taking images and maps of Jupiter at infrared wavelengths from 2009 to 2012 and comparing them with high-quality visible images from the increasingly active amateur astronomy community.

Read the full article here

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