Note: Click on Solar System Exploration: Galileo Legacy Site (NASA-JPL) to get this image at its highest resolution.
This mosaic of the vast Antarctic continent shows the Ross Ice Shelf and its
sharp border with the dark waters of the Ross Sea, merging into the South Pacific Ocean.
The Transantarctic mountain range can be seen downward and to the left of the Ross Ice Shelf.
December 8, 1990. Range, 200,000 kilometers (124,300 miles).
This picture was "mosaic-ed" together out of 40 different images that were taken several hours after Galileo's closest approach to the Earth.
You can see three different oceans (through breaks in the clouds) in this
picture: The Pacific to the lower right, the Indian to the upper right, and
a small section of the Atlantic at the upper left.
Nearly the entire continent was sunlit at the time, just two weeks before Antarctic midsummer.
The South Pole is left of center; the arc of dark spots extending below there and to the right is the Transantarctic Mountain Range.
To the right of the mountains is the vast Ross Ice Shelf and its sharp border with the dark waters of the Ross Sea, merging into the South Pacific.
The faint blue line along the curved limb of Earth, at the bottom, marks our planet's atmosphere.
We've oriented this Antarctica image using the familiar North-at-the-top
reference, but some people find it disconcerting to look at this
orientation; it feels like you might fall off of the bottom of the planet!
You might want to try turning the picture "upside down", as well.
Similarly, try changing your point of view for any of the images in this collection - in outer space, there is no up or down!
Unless you live right on top of the equator, you're used to finding that
days in winter are far shorter than are days in summer.
At the north and south pole, the inclination of the Earth's rotation axis to the plane of the planet's orbit about the Sun, mean that summer brings 24-hour days (but winter brings 24 hour nights).
Using a globe that's appropriately tilted (about 23 degrees), turn out the lights and set the "Sun" (e.g. a flashlight).
Can you replicate the lighting conditions seen in the picture above?
Does this correspond with it being "Summer" in the Southern Hemisphere?
Next slide: South Polar Projection of Earth
Back to: Galileo To Jupiter
Link to: Solar System Exploration: Galileo Legacy Site (NASA - JPL)
Updated: August 6 '96
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