Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Voyager 1's family portrait of Jupiter and 3 Galilean Satellites

Voyager 1's family portrait of Jupiter and 3 Galilean Satellites
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Jupiter, its Great Red Spot and three of its four largest satellites are visible in this photo taken Feb. 5, 1979, by Voyager 1. The spacecraft was 28.4 million kilometers (17.5 million miles) from the planet at the time. The innermost large satellite, Io, can be seen against Jupiter's disk. Io is distinguished by its bright, brown-yellow surface. To the right of Jupiter is the satellite Europa, also very bright but with fainter surface markings. The darkest satellite, Callisto (still nearly twice as bright as Earth's Moon), is barely visible at the bottom left of the picture. Callisto shows a bright patch in its northern hemisphere. All three orbit Jupiter in the equatorial plane, and appear in their present position because Voyager is above the plane. All three satellites show the same face to Jupiter always -- just as Earth's Moon always shows us the same face. In this photo we see the sides of the satellites that always face away from the planet. Jupiter's colorfully banded atmosphere displays complex patterns highlighted by the Great Red Spot, a large, circulating atmospheric disturbance. This photo was assembled from three black and white negatives by the Image Processing Lab at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL manages and controls the Voyager project for NASA's Office of Space Science.
Credit: NASA/JPL

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