First Evidence of Jupiter Ring
First evidence of a ring around the planet Jupiter is seen in this photograph taken by Voyager 1 on March 4, 1979. The multiple exposure of the extremely thin faint ring appears as a broad light band crossing the center of the picture. The edge of the ring is 1,212,000 km from the spacecraft and 57,000 km from the visible cloud deck of Jupiter. The background stars look like broken hair pins because of spacecraft motion during the 11 minute 12 second exposure. The wavy motion of the star trails is due to the ultra-slow natural oscillation of the spacecraft (with a period of 78 seconds). The black dots are geometric calibration points in the camera. The ring thickness is estimated to be 30 km or less. The photograph was part of a sequence planned to search for such rings in Jupiter's equatorial plane. The ring has been invisible from Earth because of its thinness and its transparency when viewed at any angle except straight on. JPL manages and controls the Voyager Project for NASA's Office of Space Science.