December 29, 2010
These images and movie show the distribution of the organic molecule acetylene at the north and south poles of Jupiter, based on data obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in early January 2001. It is the highest-resolution map of acetylene to date on Jupiter. The enhanced emission results both from the warmer temperatures in the auroral hot spots, and probably also from an enhanced abundance in these regions. The detection helps scientists understand the chemical interactions between sunlight and molecules in Jupiter's stratosphere.
These maps were made by NASA's composite infrared spectrometer.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built.