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Inner Radiation Belts of Jupiter
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Inner Radiation Belts of Jupiter

November 11, 2009
Details in radiation belts close to Jupiter are mapped from measurements that NASA's Cassini spacecraft made of radio emission from high-energy electrons moving at nearly the speed of light within the belts.

The three views show the belts at different points in Jupiter's 10-hour rotation. A picture of Jupiter is superimposed to show the size of the belts relative to the planet. Cassini's radar instrument, operating in a listen-only mode, measured the strength of microwave radio emissions at a frequency of 13.8 gigahertz (13.8 billion cycles per second or 2.2 centimetre wavelength). The results indicate the region near Jupiter is one of the harshest radiation environments in the solar system.

From Earth-based radio telescopes, the telltale radio emissions would be swamped out by heat-generated radio emissions from Jupiter's atmosphere, but Cassini was close enough to Jupiter in January 2001 to differentiate between the emissions from the radiation belts and those from the atmosphere.

The belts appear to wobble as the planet turns because they are controlled by Jupiter's magnetic field, which is tilted in relation to the planet's poles.


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