The Planet Jupiter

Jupiter taken by the NASA Cassini spacecraft

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Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, and contains two and a half times the mass of all the other planets combined. Cornell astronomers were deeply involved with the Galileo spacecraft mission which orbited Jupiter for eight years, and sent a probe which parachuted slowly through the Jupiter atmosphere to measure its properties. Jupiter's four major moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto -- discovered by Galileo -- are visible through the Fuertes telescope, as are some of the cloud belts of the planet -- and occasionally the centuries-old Great Red Spot.

Cornell astronomer Peter Gierasch has studied the atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter and made one of the first estimates of the amount of helium in its atmosphere. Phil Nicholson has studied the dynamics of several of its small moons which were first discovered by the Voyager spacecraft. Joseph Veverka served as Deputy Imaging Team Leader on the Galileo spacecraft mission to Jupiter.

Current Cornell Research

Professor Joseph Burns has studied the stability and evolution of Saturn's rings as a member of the Cassini spacecraft team. Cassini was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn seven years later. It remains in orbit around Saturn today and is still in operation, photographing Saturn's moons and ring system as it maneuvers to new orbits to gain different perspectives.
Professor Peter Gierasch studies the winds, clouds, and atmospheric processes on the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Professor Phil Nicholson has discovered a number of new moons orbiting the outer solar system gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. His research involves uncovering how the distribution of moons of various sizes and orbits encodes information about the formation of the outer planets and Solar System.

Fuertes Observatory
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