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Jupiter's Rings: Sharpest View
Release Date: May 1, 2007
The New Horizons spacecraft took the best images of Jupiter’s charcoal-black rings as it approached and then looked back at Jupiter. The top image was taken on approach, showing three well-defined lanes of gravel- to boulder-sized material composing the bulk of the rings, as well as lesser amounts of material between the rings. New Horizons snapped the lower image after it had passed Jupiter on February 28, 2007, and looked back in a direction toward the sun. The image is sharply focused, though it appears fuzzy due to the cloud of dust-sized particles enveloping the rings. The dust is brightly illuminated in the same way the dust on a dirty windshield lights up when you drive toward a “low” sun. The narrow rings are confined in their orbits by small “shepherding” moons.
The pictures were taken by the New Horizons Long Range Reconnsiassance Imager (LORRI), which, like the New Horizons spacecraft, was designed and built at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute