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Jupiter & Asteroids
A graphic view of Jupiter and the Asteroid Belts that separate it from Mars and the inner planets. It would of course be impossible to see this visually, as the asteroids are so small and widely-spaced, and the planets so distant!
Galileo over Io
The Galileo space probe can just be seen against the cloud belts of Jupiter, as it flies by the highly volcanic moon Io. Several plumes erupt hundreds of kilometres into space.
Galileo above Io 2
A close-up of the Galileo probe as it passes over the surface of Io. The damage to the high-gain antenna, which failed to open properly, can clearly be seen. Despite this, Galileo sent back amazing images of the Jupiter system. (Cover for Astronomy Now.)
Galileo Burns ('Phoenix')
When Galileo's job was over the decision was made by NASA to allow it burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere. This would avoid it contaminating any of the Moons, especially Europa, where there could be life beneath a shell of ice (see Black Smokers below).
Jupiter and Io
Another view of the volcanic surface of Io. A large volcano is erupting in the distance. (Digital, from Futures).
Eruption on Io
It was the Voyager 1 probe that revealed Io as being highly volcanic. Parasol-like plumes of gas were seen on the limb of Io in 1979. Over 400 volcanoes have now been identified. They are caused by tidal friction inside the little moon.(Gouache. From Book of the Universe by Ian Ridpath; also cover for Analog, May 2002. Private collection of D. Encill)
Spires of Callisto
As with Europa, there may be a salty ocean far beneath Callisto's surface. During its flyby, Galileo's camera saw strange spires jutting 80 to 100 meters (260 to 330 ft) high, possibly consisting of material thrown outward from a major impact billions of years ago. The spires are icy, but they also harbour some darker dust. The dark material seems to be sliding down them and collecting in low-lying areas. (Digital, from Futures.)
Polar aurorae on Jupiter, as recorded by several probes, would appear reddish to human eyes, since there is none of the oxygen or nitrogen which gives terrestrial aurorae their green, blue or violet colours. Yellow-orange Io is visible at left. (Digital, from Futures.)
Black Smoker on Europa
Many scientists now believe that life could exist in the deep oceans which are believed to lie beneath the ice-shell that forms the surface of Europa. Here some impact from space has cracked the ice, allowing Jove to be seen briefly. Europan life clusters around a hot vent, similar to the 'black smokers' found near Earth's ocean trenches. From Futures.
Comet SL-9 1
In 1994 the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke up and crashed into Jupiter – an event never seen before. Hardy produced 3 paintings, in gouache; this one shows the fragments of broken-up comet approaching Jupiter, one of them just impacting in the cloud belts.
Comet SL-9 2
Here the comet particles are seen entering Jupiter's atmosphere, with the cloud belts still far below. Friction with the air causes them to glow red- then white-hot, and they break up still further.
Comet SL-9 3
This painting, of several fireballs within Jupiter's atmosphere, one of which has broken through the cloud layer and exploded to form a mushroom cloud, was used by the ITV News (ITN) in animated form.
Alien Life on Jupiter
A number of scientists and SF writers, including Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke and Ben Bova have postulated life among the clouds of gas-giant planets like Jupiter, floating between the cold upper layers and areas where internal heating creates updrafts of organic materials. Here we see grazing 'floaters' and manta-like predators.
Jupiter is by far the largest planet in our Solar System – over 300 times the mass of Earth and 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets put together. It is a gas giant, and rotates so rapidly that it is not a sphere, but oblate (flattened). It has a faint system of rings.
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