June 2009 — Sharpening up Jupiter

An unprecedented observation of Jupiter using a superior technique to remove atmospheric blur has produced the sharpest whole-planet picture ever taken from the ground. The series of 265 snapshots obtained with the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) prototype instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope reveals changes in Jupiter’s smog-like haze, probably in response to a planet-wide upheaval more than a year ago. MAD allowed the researchers to observe Jupiter for almost two continuous hours on 16 and 17 August 2008, a record duration.

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ESO/F. Marchis, M. Wong, E. Marchetti, P. Amico and S. Tordo

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