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Galileo Observes Fragment N Impact



During the past few days, tape recorded data from Galileo direct imaging of the impact site of Shoemaker-Levy 9 Fragment N have been returned to Earth. The frame returned covers the Earth-receive times 10:28:13 to 10:30:40; it consists of 5 drift scans taken through our 0.89um methane filter, in the same mode used for our observations of the K impact site. A luminous event for N is visible from about 10:29:17 to about 10:29:32. The light curve rises abruptly in the first 2 or 3 seconds to a value a little less than half the peak brightness of the K event, then falls over the next 2 seconds to about 20% of the peak value, before trailing off. (There is a bit of confusion from multiple-exposure trails of the Galilean satellites.)

The N event was small and faint, as observed from Earth. However, the event detected by Galileo occurred within error bars of the estimate of impact time derived from observations of its small scar by HST and the best guess of P. Chodas and D. Yeomans based on systematics of the other SL9 phenomena.

The Galileo image and our light curve will be displayed and discussed on Shoemaker-Levy 9 Day at the DPS meeting next Monday in Bethesda, Maryland. The frame will be placed on our WWW home page, along with our other data already there for W and K, once the hectic week ahead has passed.

Clark R. Chapman and William J. Merline, on behalf of the Galileo SSI Team,
27 October 1994

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