July 21, 2009

BILL HARWOOD: Astronomers Study “Gargantuan” Jupiter Impact. “Over the next few days and weeks, the Hubble Space Telescope, other space-based telescopes, and observatories around the world will focus on the impact site to learn as much as possible about what might have hit Jupiter and how the impact affected the planet’s atmosphere.”

Now Jupiter is bigger and farther out than Earth, so it’s likely to get hit more often. But we’ve been watching it seriously for about 50 years, and we’ve seen two major impacts. What does that suggest about the risk to Earth?

UPDATE: Reader Dale Osborn writes: “So, Jupiter’s role in the solar system is to be the Big Hoover, vacuuming up most of the big rocks that could head Earth’s way. It’s like Someone designed the solar system that way.” Well, but sometimes it slingshots ’em our way, too . . . .

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