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NASA ScienceCast 299: The Lasting Impacts of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9


In the lasting impacts of Comet Shoemaker Levy nine presented by science at NASA at the close the last century a comet captured into orbit around a planet traveled to close and was shredded by gravity into multiple pieces some as large as half a mile or one-kilometer-long those fragments would plunge engine to the planets atmosphere in a series of impacts. Would the impacts be spectacular or would the comet fragments disappear without a trace in July nineteen ninety-four astronomers around the world watched with bated. Breath as the fragments of Comet Shoemaker Levy nine slammed into the planet Jupiter Dr Kelly fast was one of the impacts observers and is now manager of Nasr's near Earth Object Observations Program. It was just incredible to watch such an impact event had never before been witnessed. Let alone studied ground based telescopes around the world and spacecraft like Nasr's Hubble Space Telescope and even the Galileo orbiter on route to Jupiter were used to to observe the impacts the discovery of the comment by Caroline Jeans Shoemaker and David Levy gave us about a year at a plan observations. The impacts proved to be impressive the fragments some twenty one in all plunged plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere over the course of six days at impact. They were travelling at a speed of about thirty seven miles per second or sixty kilometers per second heating the atmosphere to at least fifty three thousand degrees Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit or thirty thousand degrees Celsius like the splash from throwing a rock into a pond the impacts created giant plumes of material from Jupiter's lower atmosphere which rose as high as nineteen hundred miles or three three thousand kilometers above the cloud tops into the stratosphere in the aftermath the Plume Splash Bax scarred Jupiter's atmosphere with dark clouds of impact abry which could be seen for months as they were gradually dispersed by Jupiter's was wins so what scientists able to learn about Jupiter itself as a result of the impacts for one thing those dark clouds of impact debris acted as tracers of the winds in Jupiter stratosphere and by following their motion over. Over time scientists could measure those high altitude wins temporary changes in the Aurora on Jupiter showed scientists at Jupiter's magnetosphere was influenced by particles from the impacts. We are still able to see changes changes in Jupiter's atmosphere that resulted from the impacts when the fragments of shoemaker leaving nine slammed into Jupiter they deposited their own chemical compounds. The impact processes produced some and others were exhumed from the lower atmosphere here. Some molecules like ammonia were destroyed by sunlight in the weeks and months after the impacts but others like hydrogen cyanide and water are still seeing today all of that tells scientists about how chemistry works in Jupiter's bidders atmosphere come at shoemaker leaving nine showed us at large impacts still happened in the solar system and were a factor in NASA developing programs to address the impact risk to Earth from comet science to Jupiter.

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