Object hits Jupiter
New Giant Scar on Jupiter
© UCB, LLNL/UCLA, SETI Institute
"We were extremely lucky to be seeing Jupiter at exactly the right time, the right hour, the right side of Jupiter to witness the event. We couldn't have planned it better," said Glenn Orton, a scientist at JPL.
Orton and his team of astronomers kicked into gear early in the morning and haven't stopped tracking the planet. They are downloading data now and are working to get additional observing time on this and other telescopes.
"It could be the impact of a comet, but we don't know for sure yet," said Orton. "It's been a whirlwind of a day, and this on the anniversary of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Apollo anniversaries is amazing."
Shoemaker-Levy 9 was a comet that had been seen to break into many pieces before the pieces hit Jupiter in 1994.
The impact close to the south polar region left a dark spot, which is with an area of about 190 Million Square Kilometers as big as the Pacific Ocean. Since the scar has a complex structure, scientists suspect that the asteroid or comet burst into several pieces before the impact.