Galileo's Earth-Moon portrait


  • Lynn Teo Simarski


Research reported at an AGU session on Galileo's Earth/Moon flyby refined the spacecraft's distinctive portrait of the Earth-Moon system. The Galileo team presented dramatic new views of the Earth and Moon taken last December. Andrew P. Ingersoll showed a color movie of the rotating Earth, made through spectral filters with which Galileo viewed the Earth almost continuously for 25 hours.

Galileo also made finely tuned observations of vegetation and clouds, using three very closely spaced spectral wavelengths in the near-infrared, explained W. Reid Thompson. In the resulting images, Argentinian grassland and Brazilian rain forest are clearly distinguished, demonstrating the applicability of this technique for routine monitoring of deforestation, shifts in vegetation due to climate, and other phenomena. Thompson suggested that this capability could be used on the Earth Observing System. One of the spectral bands may also have potential for monitoring cloud condensation, as it appears to differentiate actively condensing, vapor-heavy clouds from higher and drier clouds.