Dr. Randy Gladstone, Dr. Doyle Hall, and other members of the EUVE Comet Shoemaker/Levy 9 observing team, report today on the surprise detection of helium emissions from Jupiter's atmosphere during the impacts of the fragments of Comet Shoemaker/Levy 9.
A Jupiter spectrum obtained by the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) shows helium emissions during the impacts that were not present immediately before the impacts began. One of the observed helium lines seems to indicate that a source of the emissions is the recombination of helium ions.
"The presence of these emissions is quite unexpected and they imply that substantial amounts of helium and helium ions have been lifted to high altitudes in Jupiter's upper atmosphere...at least several hundred kilometers above the cloud tops" says Gladstone.
An EUVE spectrum of the Io Torus, a donut of plasma surrounding Jupiter at the orbit of the Galilean moon Io, shows many emissions of sulfur, oxygen, and even sodium ions. At the present time there are no indications of substantial changes in the extreme ultraviolet emissionsfrom the torus. The Io Torus may respond to the impacts on a longer time scale than Jupiter, and EUVE will be monitoring both Jupiter and the Io Torus until the beginning of August to look for changes in the system. CEA is the U.C. Berkeley center that built and, under management by Goddard Space Flight Center, operates the scientific instruments aboard NASA's highly successful EUVE satellite, launched in June, 1992.
Press release issued by: The UC Berkeley Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Principal Investigators for the EUVE Mission are: Professor Stuart Bowyer, Science Investigations and Dr. Roger Malina, Mission Operations and Data Analysis. Work is funded by NASA contracts NAS5-30180 and NAS5-29298. The EUVE project is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The GSFC Project Manager: Paul Pashby, Project Scientist: Dr. Yoji Kondo, Deputy Project Scientist: Dr. Ronald Oliversen. NASA HQ Senior Program Scientist: Dr. Robert Stachnik, Dep. Program Scientist: Dr. Darrell New, Cheif Scientist: Dr. G. Riegler. GSFC Project Operations Director: Mr. Kevin Hartnett.
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