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Hubble to Monitor Jupiter's Aurora
Hubble to Monitor Jupiter's Aurora
14 Dec 2000
(Source: Space Telescope Science Institute)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conduct a real-time experiment from 600 million miles away. Over the next several weeks, Hubble will peer at the dancing, flickering aurora at Jupiter's poles, while instruments aboard the Jupiter-bound Cassini probe take direct measurements of the solar wind and determine the amount of pressure those winds exert as they buffet Jupiter's immense magnetic field.

As a preview of the upcoming Jupiter light-show, NASA and ESA are releasing today a unique image of Jupiter's aurora that shows the never-before-seen magnetic "footprint" of the moons Ganymede and Europa.

During the upcoming joint observations, scientists will analyze the relationship between the solar wind measurements and the images to determine how solar winds influence the aurora around Jupiter. That information, in turn, may help researchers understand some of the differences between Jupiter and Earth.

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Last Updated: 5 Jun 2001