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Looking at Jupiter, From Mars.


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Jupiter seen by HiRISE.
Jupiter seen by HiRISE. Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

Guess who took this picture of Jupiter? Hubble? Keck? A well equipped amateur here on Earth? Nope, it was taken by the HiRise camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The picture was taken from orbit around Mars.

The HiRise camera uses the most powerful telescope every launched out of the Earth’s orbit. Since Mars is much closer to Jupiter than Earth, and since the instrument has no atmosphere to peer through, it much better than a ground-based observatory.

This isn’t a completely natural colour image. Since HiRise is able to detect longer wavelengths of light - into the Infrared - it’s different than what you’d see with your own eye.

The HiRise camera is the most powerful telescope to have left Earth orbit. As such, it is capable of some interesting astronomical observations.

This image of Jupiter and its major satellites (10 MB) was acquired to calibrate the pointing and color response of the camera. An oversight in planning this unusual observation put the focus mechanism in the wrong location, blurring the image. This does not detract from the calibration objectives, but makes the raw image less esthetic.

To compensate, the image has been "sharpened" on the ground by Dennis Gallagher, the HiRise chief optical designer. With this sharpening, and because Mars is closer to Jupiter than Earth is, this image has comparable resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope's pictures of Jupiter.

The colors are not what is seen by the human eye because HiRise is able to detect light with a slightly longer wavelength than we can (that is, the infrared).

While there is no standard observation geometry, this image was acquired on 11 January 2007, 2102 spacecraft event time to be precise.

Original source: HiRISE




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