CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Using Methane Absorption to Probe Jupiter's Atmosphere
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Using Methane Absorption to Probe Jupiter's Atmosphere
PIA 01114


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Mosaics of a belt-zone boundary near Jupiter's equator in near-infrared light moderately absorbed by atmospheric methane (top panel), and strongly absorbed by atmospheric methane (bottom panel). The four images that make up each of these mosaics were taken within a few minutes of each other. Methane in Jupiter's atmosphere absorbs light at specific wavelengths called absorption bands. By detecting light close and far from these absorption bands, Galileo can probe to different depths in Jupiter's atmosphere. Sunlight near 732 nanometers (top panel) is moderately absorbed by methane. Some of the light reflected from clouds deep in Jupiter's troposphere is absorbed, enhancing the higher features. Sunlight at 886 nanometers (bottom panel) is strongly absorbed by methane. Most of the light reflected from the deeper clouds is absorbed, making these clouds invisible. Features in the diffuse cloud layer higher in Jupiter's atmosphere are greatly enhanced.

North is at the top. The mosaic covers latitudes -13 to +3 degrees and is centered at longitude 282 degrees West. The smallest resolved features are tens of kilometers in size. These images were taken on November 5th, 1996, at a range of 1.2 million kilometers by the Solid State Imaging system aboard NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC.

This image and other images and data received from Galileo are posted on the World Wide Web, on the Galileo mission home page at URL http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov. Background information and educational context for the images can be found at URL http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/sepo


Image Credit: NASA/JPL



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