Special Reports

Jupiter's Nightside Airglow and Aurora

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Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 229-231
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147613

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Observations of Jupiter's nightside airglow (nightglow) and aurora obtained during the flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft show an unexpected lack of ultraviolet nightglow emissions, in contrast to the case during the Voyager flybys in 1979. The flux and average energy of precipitating electrons generally decrease with increasing local time across the nightside, consistent with a possible source region along the dusk flank of Jupiter's magnetosphere. Visible emissions associated with the interaction of Jupiter and its satellite Io extend to a surprisingly high altitude, indicating localized low-energy electron precipitation. These results indicate that the interaction between Jupiter's upper atmosphere and near-space environment is variable and poorly understood; extensive observations of the day side are no guide to what goes on at night.

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