NASA has interrupted its setup of the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope to capture the sharpest visible light images yet of a ‘scar’ discovered last week on the planet caused by the impact of a comet or an asteroid.
NASA, in a press release, today described the scar as “a new expanding spot” which is changing day to day in the planet’s cloud tops.”
The combination of the Hubble data with mid-infrared images from the Gemini telescope will give us an insight into changes of the vertical structure of the atmosphere due to the impact,” said investigator Imke de Pater of the University of California at Berkeley.
Discretionary time on the telescope was allocated by Space Telescope Science Institute director Matt Mountain to a team of astronomers led by Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
The spot was first discovered by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19.
Details in the Hubble telescope’s view show “a lumpiness to the debris plume cause by turbulence in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The spot is presently twice the length of the United States,” said Amy Simon Miller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
She estimated that the diameter of the object which hit Jupiter was “at least the size of several football fields.”
NASA says the WFC3 camera recently installed by astronauts has not yet been fully calibrated and that its full power cannot yet be realized for most observations.