Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 May 8
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Jupiter's Moons Thebe, Amalthea, and Metis
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: The robot spacecraft Galileo in orbit around Jupiter has recently photographed the inner moons of Jupiter in greater detail than ever before. These pictures of Thebe, Amalthea, and Metis are shown to scale, and reveal details as small as three kilometers across. Amalthea, by contrast, has a total length of about 200 kilometers. The moons are composed mostly of ice, are much smaller than Jupiter's more famous Galilean satellites (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto), and orbit between Io and Jupiter's rings. Thebe appears dominated by a huge impact crater 40 kilometers across. Astronomers are uncertain of the origin of the unusual white gash at the bottom of Amalthea.

Tomorrow's picture: Race for the Universe

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.