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Images of Jupiter's Atmosphere

images of Jupiter's observation[14k]

Jupiter's atmosphere (a composite of 4 frames) in the 756 nm filter of the Galileo imaging system. The images are of the limb from roughly latitude 5 south to latitude 50 south with north towards the top. The west longitude at the limb is about 20 degrees. The experiment represented by these frames was a search for small particles (aerosols) remaining in Jupiter's stratosphere from the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impacts more than 2 years ago. Those impacts lofted large amounts of aerosols high into Jupiter's atmosphere, where they have settled out and been carried along with the prevailing winds over time. By attempting to identify the spatial distribution and amount of these aerosol particles, we hoped to learn about the winds and circulation patterns of Jupiter's stratosphere. While these frames may, after very careful study, yield some information about the remaining stratospheric aerosols, the sensitivity of these frames is too low to allow a simple indication of the aerosol distribution. The first-cut result of this experiment is then an upper limit on the number density of aerosol particles in the stratosphere of Jupiter. The fact that we can not detect the aerosols in these images may be due to meridional (north-south) winds which are stronger in the stratosphere than anticipated, spreading the aerosols more thinly over a wider region of the planet, or simply that the aerosols have almost completely settled out. Each pixel in this image subtends a square 100 km on a side. The Universal Time of these frames is about 17 hours, 14 minutes on September 4, 1996. The range is 3.0 million kilometers.



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