In March of 1993, 3 astronomers (Schumacher, Schumacher, and Levy) discovered a surmised, mile wide comet that was to have broken up into 21 pieces years earlier. The largest object, about a half a mile in diameter, was in a parade of pieces like an armada of ships traveling at incredible speeds in a decaying orbit around Jupiter. With multiple telescopes, both on earth and in various orbits in the solar system, people on earth now had a front row seat to an impact collision of celestial bodies on a planet that posed no harm to their own home planet. On July 16-24th, 1994, these pieces were observed disintegrating into Jupiter’s atmosphere. A linear array of black spots appeared on scientific photos released to the public of the damage to the Jupiter atmosphere. This was a first-hand view of collisions that take place in our solar system and gave us front row observations as to the energy released, in the form of heat and light, during a celestial impact of fairly large objects. The impact on a gas giant, such as Jupiter, allowed scientists to observe just what happens when mass, velocity, and gravity interact. This lesson can be applied to collisions on earth, except the end results will be different because earth is a solid object with liquid water on and within its surface. No one could accurately tell exactly what those 21 major pieces and millions of tag-along pieces were composed of. Were they granite rocks, silicone slivers, frozen water, or slabs of rock hard, frozen ammonia?  In the end, they all melted and interacted with the Jovian atmosphere at very high temperatures due to the acceleration forces imposed by the giant planet’s huge gravity. A collision on earth would be devastating but different because of the chemistry. Impact Craters on earth can be either rocks or frozen gases (as hard as rock) but with different flashing points. Herein lies the difference of the collision craters. On earth, not all impacts are the same and the end results will differ. 

Satellite photos of the broken Schumacher, Schumacher,  Levy comet after it broke into pieces as it circled Jupiter. 
Satellite photos after the comet’s components burned up in the Jovian atmosphere. July 16-24, 1994. 

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