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JPL Comet Shoemaker-Levy Educators Guide



The Ulysses spacecraft was designed for solar study and used a gravity assist from flying close to Jupiter to change its inclination (the tilt of its path relative to the plane of the planets) so it can fly over the poles of the Sun. In July 1994 it will be about 378 million km south of the plane of the planets (the ecliptic) and able to "look" over the south pole of Jupiter directly at the impact sites. Unfortunately, Ulysses has no camera as a part of its instrument complement. It does have an extremely sensitive receiver of radio frequency signals from 1 to 1000 kHz (kilohertz, or kilocycles in older terminology) called URAP (Unified Radio and Plasma wave experiment). URAP may be able to detect thermal radiation from the impact fireballs once they rise sufficiently high above interference from the Jovian ionosphere (upper atmosphere) and to measure a precise time history of their rapid cooling.

This was exerpted from the JPL Shoemaker-Levy Educators Guide. To see the entire guide, click here.

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