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Jupiter Loses a Belt

The planet Jupiter has lost one of its belts -- the Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB). It's made of mostly ammonia ice, phosphorus, and sulfur, and apparently disappears now and then:

The belt took leaves of absence in both the early 1990s and in 1973, so its disappearance now, if anything, is a bit overdue (it seems to be on a roughly 15-year cycle).

But due to the orbital dynamics of Earth and Jupiter, this particular disrobing was far more abrupt. Jupiter has been hanging out on the other side of the sun since late 2009, obscured from our view for the last few months. The belt disappeared while Jupiter was hiding, making for quite a drastic change in appearance when it recently re-emerged. | Image: Anthony Wesley

Just goes to show what a boondoggle the ISS is.

Billions into it, and practically zero science out of it. Big whoop, we got a few men orbiting the earth a measly 220 miles up. About as useful as a pig on a string. It'd be different if they could do satellite maintenance or other somewhat useful chores - but nope - they just go round and round, just like the wheels on a school bus (and about as interesting).

For a fraction of the cost we could have robot probes orbiting all the major planets, and could have watched in realtime the belt on Jupiter fade.

But noooooooo, we let politicians with their 6th grade education set policy.
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Won't it's pants fall down now?

Oooops, I forgot, with no gravity all is okay.
That was close, we almost had Jupiter Mooning us.

(Yeah I know it's lame. I tried.)
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