This diagram shows the rings of Jupiter and Jupiter's innermost moons.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.
The Rings of Jupiter
Jupiter has a series of rings circling
it! Unlike Saturn's rings, which are
clearly visible from Earth even through small telescopes, Jupiter's rings are
very difficult to see. So difficult, in fact, that they weren't discovered
until a few years ago. Jupiter's rings were first found by the Voyager
1 spacecraft in 1979.
There are three parts to Jupiter's rings. The innermost, cloud-like
ring is called the Halo Ring. The next one out is the Main Ring, which is quite
narrow and thin. Beyond the Main Ring is the wispy, nearly transparent Gossamer
Ring. As shown in the diagram, the Gossamer Ring has two parts: the Amalthea
Gossamer Ring (closer to Jupiter) and the Thebe Gossamer Ring.
Saturn's rings are mostly made of ice. Jupiter's rings are different - they
are very dark and difficult to see. They are made up of small bits of dust.
The Galileo spacecraft helped us discover where that dust comes from. Meteors
striking the surface of Jupiter's small, inner moons kick up dust which then
goes into orbit around Jupiter, forming the rings.
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