Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comet Likely Struck Jupiter

Something hit the planet Jupiter on July 20. An amateur astronomer discovered the impact from his backyard in Australia. He then contacted NASA and JPL to confirm what he had witnessed. At the time, astronomers were unsure what had hit the planet, but now believe it was either a rogue comet or asteroid. The picture on the left compares the impact scar with that of the Earth.
Jupiter is so large and has such a large gravitational pull that some scientists believe that the planet actually acts like a magnet in the solar system drawing large objects toward it. This could be good or bad for us here on Earth. Jupiter could draw an asteroid on a collision course with Earth off course so that it misses us, or it could change the course of an asteroid so that it does hit us. Either way, the solar system is a dangerous place with many unknowns.

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