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October 18, 1993 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1993-22

Hubble Investigates Comet on a Collision Course with Jupiter

October 18, 1993: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has provided the most detailed look yet at the comet hurtling toward a July 1994 collision with the giant planet Jupiter. Hubble's high resolution shows that the approximately 20 objects that comprise comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 -- giving it the resemblance of a "string of pearls" -- are much smaller than originally estimated from observations with ground-based telescopes. According to Dr. Harold Weaver of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Baltimore, MD, the Hubble observations show that the cometary nuclei are probably no bigger than three miles across, as opposed to earlier estimates of nine miles.

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Credit: Dr. H. A. Weaver and Mr. T. E. Smith, STScI NASA