Fragments of a shattered comet collide with Jupiter.
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was on a collision course. The comet had once orbited Jupiter, circling the gas giant every two years. But during a close encounter with the planet, it was ripped apart by tidal forces. A trail of fragments, some greater than 3,000 feet across, was all that remained of the icy mass. In July 1994, the fragments raced towards Jupiter’s south pole, exploding into fireballs as they entered the cloud-filled atmosphere. Each impact set off fiery plumes that could be seen by observing spacecraft. The event, which took place over six days, was the first collision of two bodies in the solar system ever witnessed by humans. Watch the visualization to see a re-creation of this historic clash.
Please give credit for this item to: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Cover image courtesy of NASA Jupiter pre-impact image courtesy of NASA, ESA, STScI/H. Weaver and E. Smith, JPL/J. Trauger and R. Evans Hubble image courtesy of NASA, ESA, STScI/H. Weaver and E. Smith Jupiter time-lapse image courtesy of NASA, HST, WFPC2, SSI/H. Hammel
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