July 25, 2009

Hubble camera trained on Jupiter scar

The newly repaired Hubble Space Telescope is sending back exquisite pictures of debris from an object that collided with Jupiter, NASA officials said.

Scientists interrupted calibration of Hubble's new Wide Field Camera 3, installed by astronauts in May, to photograph the debris field 360 million miles away, said Heidi Hammel, Hubble's lead astronomer at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. Hubble is in orbit 347 miles above the Earth.

Hubble's truly exquisite imaging capability has revealed an astonishing wealth of detail in the impact site, Hammel said in a NASA release Saturday.

While it is possible to photograph celestial images, the camera's full potential has yet to be tested, she said.

A comet or asteroid collided with Jupiter July 19, the impact discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley. The impact was thousands of times more powerful than the suspected comet or asteroid that exploded over the Siberian Tunguska River Valley in June 1908, NASA said.