"WHEN FASCISM COMES TO AMERICA IT WILL BE WRAPPED IN THE FLAG
AND CARRYING A CROSS." -SINCLAIR LEWIS

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jupiter's New Scar

I'm starting to feel very small again:

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken the sharpest visible-light picture yet of atmospheric debris from an object that collided with Jupiter on July 19. NASA scientists decided to interrupt the recently refurbished observatory's checkout and calibration to take the image of a new, expanding spot on the giant planet on July 23.

Discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley, the spot was created when a small comet or asteroid plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated. The only other time such a feature has been seen on Jupiter was 15 years ago after the collision of fragments from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

"Because we believe this magnitude of impact is rare, we are very fortunate to see it with Hubble," said Amy Simon-Miller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Details seen in the Hubble view shows a lumpiness to the debris plume caused by turbulence in Jupiter's atmosphere."
Scientists have estimated that the object that struck Jupiter was the size of several football fields and that the impact was thousands of times more powerful than the Tunguska Event over Russia in 1908. And the scar's diameter? About the same as the Earth. Amazing, and humbling. It could still happen to us. I keep saying it.

1 comment:

quietmagpie said...

The presence of the gas giants is possibly why the inner planets like Earth have not been bashed more often and worse than they have over the last however-many-millions of years - their gravity acts as a vacuum cleaner sucking in many hits we wouldn't survive.