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Space Science

Hubble Photographs Jupiter's New "Scar" 60

BearRanger writes "Calibration of new systems in the Hubble Space Telescope (installed in May by Shuttle Atlantis astronauts) were interrupted to take pictures of the new 'scar' near the south pole of Jupiter. The scar is believed to have been caused by the impact of an asteroid or small comet with the gas giant, which we discussed last Sunday. Hubble's return to service will be delayed by this interruption, but NASA says that rare events such as this warrant the delay. This is only the second recorded impact of an object with Jupiter."
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Hubble Photographs Jupiter's New "Scar"

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  • Cult Watch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <<ten.liamhsart> <ta> <egihaka>> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:11PM (#28819259) Homepage Journal

    After Art Bell hyped the Hale-Bopp as spaceship with Major Ed Dames, the Heaven's Gate cult [wikipedia.org] offed themselves, thinking they were going home to their reward. I bet Dames and fellow snake oil salesman, Richard C. Hoagland [wikipedia.org] are spinning this one for some sort of prophecy. Watch Hoagland tie his 19.5 Cosmic Math and Masonic rituals into it.

    If you are in a cult, now is the time to turn down the bowl of apple sauce and free pairs of Nike.

  • by ZosX ( 517789 ) <.zosxavius. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:22PM (#28819345) Homepage

    This is a pretty great image. I don't remember shots of jupiter looking anywhere near this good before. I really can't wait to see what the new hubble is capable of producing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is nothing compared to the shots from the Galileo spacecraft. We would be getting awesome shots of this impact if NASA hadn't suicided the probe in 2003.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Galileo was EOL'ing anyway. But perhaps the New Horizons probe could be re-oriented? Not sure if that would give any useful additional data, however.


        As for the new Hubble camera - awesome! Now all we need to do is build a new Hubble (sorry, Webb, but your wavelengths are a little too limited) that can be serviced robotically so it no longer has to rely on shuttle missions for fixes and upgrades. Or maybe we can just launch a whole bunch of smaller, cheaper ones, that together act as a much larger t

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by HonIsCool ( 720634 )
          Earth is much closer to Jupiter than the New Horizon is. Distance between Earth and Jupiter is about 4 AU while New Horizon is currently some 11 AU away from Jupiter.
      • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#28819857) Journal
        This is nothing compared to the shots from the Galileo spacecraft. We would be getting awesome shots of this impact if NASA hadn't suicided the probe in 2003.

        We may not have been able to see anything. Probes like Galileo have thrusters to move themselves about while in orbit. These thrusters use fuel. Galileo was launched in 1989, and swung by Venus, Earth (twice) and a couple of asteroids, using fuel for course corrections for each flyby. In 1995 it had to perform various orbital insertion burns to enter Jupiter's orbit, again using fuel. Galileo then changed orbit several times to visit the various moons of Jupiter, each thrust burning off more fuel. This lasted until 2003, when the propellant tanks were dry. There was just enough fuel to ditch the craft into Jupiter (so it wouldn't accidentally crash into Europa, and contaminate possible life there).

        So had it been left in orbit, with no manoeuvring fuel left with which to make course corrections or even re-orient the craft itself, it might possibly have survived the radiation and magnetic fields, the dozens of moons and moonlets, and the strong gravitational pull of Big J. But even if it survived to this day, without fuel, there is no attitude correction. It probably would have been pointing in the wrong direction.
        • Future probes (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WindBourne ( 631190 )
          Will likely have a LOT more fuel and much longer life. I suspect that all future probes will be using ion thrusters combined with some long life nukes. VASMIR is going to be a major change for such probes even though I am not sure that it is the ideal choice for small thrusters. As it is, we will have much larger rockets that are capable of sending probes like New Horizon, Dawn etc. on a fast trip loaded with LOTS of fuel esp. if using these thrusters.

          In fact, if America was not hurting financially as bad
    • by j-stroy ( 640921 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#28819523)
      The hi-res image shows a strong purple colour and a vivid blue bit on the top edge of the blackness. Is this real? Or is it a chromatic artifact from the calibration being unfinished?

      Have they detailed the calibration milestones?
      • by ZosX ( 517789 ) <.zosxavius. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:55PM (#28819615) Homepage

        looks like chromatic aberration to me. it is an optical problem and can be controlled with software, but pretty common on anything with any kind of optical magnification.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          How about time-lag between the R,G,B components? The Wide Field Camera 3 takes grayscale pictures with different filters. These are combined on Earth to create a color picture. The grayscale pictures for each R,G,B component aren't taken at the exact same time.

          • by ZosX ( 517789 )

            It is a problem with the optical components. Specifically the mirror and the lenses they are using to focus on their intended image. Compare to, say a canon powershot sx10 superzoom which exhibits the same optical qualities. Aberration is a long standing challenge in lens design.

      • Could also be an artifact of whatever colour correction that they used on the image before public release. The stuff that gets released like this is never the same as the raw colour/image data that is actually used in research or study.

      • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

        The hi-res image shows a strong purple colour and a vivid blue bit on the top edge of the blackness. Is this real?


    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RealGrouchy ( 943109 )

      I think that it's not just the image quality that's interesting. As a non-astro-anything-ist, I tend to think of space exploration as a really slow process, requiring years and years of bureaucratic approvals, budget overruns, then waiting months or years for the thing to get where it's going.

      For Hubble to simply stop everything to swing a look at Jupiter so soon after something newsworthy happens there is a reminder that the Hubble Space Telescope is really.fucking.cool.

      - RG>

    • by g253 ( 855070 )
      Is it really Jupiter? Cos' that picture really looks like Uranus...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We really need to watch that scar ...see if it starts to grow.

    We may want to start thinking of visiting Europa while we can.

    Just putting that out there.

  • Good for NASA (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by e9th ( 652576 )
    I suspect that in almost any other gov't agency, some PHB with a clipboard would have said, "Sorry, but you're not pointing that thing anywhere until you've finished calibrating it."
  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:29PM (#28819405) Homepage Journal

    "The new camera, installed by the astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis in May, is not yet fully calibrated. While it is possible to obtain celestial images, the camera's full power has yet to be seen."

    I don't know, but I am just imagining the same words being uttered on the Death Star, albeit in a slightly different context.

  • Size (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmerideth ( 107286 ) <gmerideth@uc[ ].com ['lnj' in gap]> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:35PM (#28819443) Homepage

    Has there been any mention of the size of that scar? I know the red spot can hold 2-3 earths but what size is that scar?

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:11PM (#28819755)

    The "wide field" (low-magnification) camera on Hubble gives a much narrower field and higher magnification than a sizable (10") amateur scope at its highest power.

    Hubble really, really rocks.

    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
      Just one thing, why didn't they use a narrower field then? I mean, you know, to really zoom in on this thing.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Generally "wide field" when used to describe a telescope or a camera attached to a telescope doesn't mean "wide-field as opposed to the other, narrow-field camera." Rather, it means "hey look, we managed to make this camera/telescope provide a relatively wide field!"

  • Ominous... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TimHunter ( 174406 ) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:18PM (#28819809)
    Okay, first there's a mysterious "scar" on Jupiter, and now the tides are inexplicably higher than normal. (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/health_science/story/1620869.html [newsobserver.com]). I don't know about anybody else, but I'm waiting for the aliens to land.
  • excuse my ignorance, but what causes the impact area to be black?
    • I'm pretty ignorant about Jupiter, but if that is cloud material, could the strike be causing a heat outfluke that pushes the clouds aside? Can more knowlegeable /.ers reply?
    • Could be carbon dust, if the impactor was a carbonaceous asteroid. Might also be sulphur compounds blown up from the lower reaches of Jupiters atmosphere.


      Astronomy [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • Monoliths (Score:2, Interesting)

    A black expanding spot on Jupiter... where have I heard that before? I guess it's happening a year earlier than Arthur C. Clarke predicted?
  • Or, put another way, "this is the second time in 15 years that amateur astronomers have discovered an object colliding with a planet - collisions which, if they had occurred here, would have sterilised if not utterly destroyed the Earth".

  • Possible Conjecture on my part: :-)

    1) For over 100 years Jupiter has been observed with fairly good equipment and we have not see such large changes such as these impacts.

    2) It is possible we are in the middle of a Comet Swarm. The frequency of these sorts of large impacts seems to be out of the ordinary, considering the last one was in 1992. (Shoemaker-Levy)

    3) What is caused by this? Could it be the alignment of our Solar System with respect to the Galactic plane:
    http://www.optcorp.com/edu/articleDetail [optcorp.com]

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?