Looping through the Jovian system in the late 1990s, the Galileo spacecraft recorded stunning views of Europa and uncovered evidence that the moon’s icy surface likely hides a deep, global ocean. Galileo’s Europa image data has been remastered here, using improved new calibrations to produce a color image approximating what the human eye might see. Europa’s long curving fractures hint at the subsurface liquid water. The tidal flexing the large moon experiences in its elliptical orbit around Jupiter supplies the energy to keep the ocean liquid. But more tantalizing is the possibility that even in the absence of sunlight that process could also supply the energy to support life, making Europa one of the best places to look for life beyond Earth. What kind of life could thrive in a deep, dark, subsurface ocean? Consider planet Earth’s own extreme shrimp.
The Abyss – that’s what NASA is calling this unusually dark cloud feature observed by the Juno probe during its latest pass over Jupiter. To wit:
Surrounding cloud patterns show the Abyss to be at the center of a vortex. Since dark features on Jupiter’s atmosphere tend to run deeper than light features, the Abyss may really be the deep hole that it appears — but without more evidence that remains conjecture. The Abyss is surrounded by a complex of meandering clouds and other swirlingstorm systems, some of which are topped by light coloured, high-altitude clouds. The featured image was captured last month while Juno passed only about 15,000 kilometres above Jupiter’s cloud tops. The next close pass of Juno near Jupiter will be in July.
Processed using low resolution color images (IR, Green, Violet) from March 29 1998 overlaying higher resolution unfiltered images taken September 26 1998. Map projected to Mercator, scale is approximately 225.7 meters per pixel, representing a span of about 1,500 kilometers.
This is the time-lapse of processed images leading to the impact on Jupiter March 17. The original purpose of the imaging session was to get this time-lapse, with a happy coincidence of the impact in the second last capture of the night.
Each of the images in the time lapse are clear because they have been processed from 55 seconds of video. the impact itself however only lasts less than two seconds, so I have shown this part without processing.
The time lapse was made using an 11″ SCT with an ASI120mm camera and Ir-pass 742nm filter.
Over the next month keep an eye on Venus-Jupiter planetary duo as they quickly begin to converge in the sky. This weekend the two will be separated by about 23 degrees; by the end of the month it will be half that, and by mid March they will be less than 3 degrees. That’s equal to the width of your three middle fingers held at arms’ length!