Jupiter Gets Whacked


By now, many might already know, a small space rock impacted Jupiter on March 17.

Jupiter, with its immense girth, has been prone to impacts. In 1994, parts of Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the gas giant and left large scars in the clouds. A similar scar appeared in 2009 but the impact event was not observed. In 2010 and 2012, amateur astronomers recorded bright flashes on Jupiter.

The recent impact was observed first by Austrian amateur astronomer Gerrit Kernbauer, who posted the news and original video on youtube and in an astronomy forum. The next day, a second observer, John Mc Keon from Ireland, discerned the impact in a video he captured around the same time.

Here is Kernbauer’s video of the impact:

And here’s an interview with Kernbauer.

While it’s not clear what hit Jupiter, according to NASA, the impact was likely caused by an asteroid and not a comet.

Very soon Jupiter will receive another visitor, this of human design. NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive in July to spend at least a year mapping the giant planet.

Interesting times!

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in astronomy, science news, trivia

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