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New Jupiter Moon Images Released

April 24, 2000

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Jupiter’s innermost moons are oddly shaped worlds battered by meteorites and bathed in intense radiation, according to images and measurements released from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft.

Three of the giant planet’s nearest moons _ Thebe, Amalthea and Metis _ were captured by the probe’s imager during flybys in August, November and January. A fourth inner moon, Adrastea, was not photographed during the maneuvers.

Images of 155-mile-long Amalthea reveals a 31-mile bright streak. Previous spacecraft pictures taken from other directions showed what appeared to be a round, bright spot.

The origin of the feature, called Ida, is not known, but scientists theorize it could be debris from a meteor impact or the crest of a local ridge, Damon Simonelli, a research associate in Cornell University’s Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, said Monday.

The flybys were the closest yet to the inner moon system of the solar system’s largest planet.

Galileo was launched Oct. 18, 1989, and reached Jupiter in December of 1995. It completed its $1.5 billion primary mission in 1997, but continues to operate despite its age and the lethal environment around Jupiter.

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On The Net: Galileo home page: http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov

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