Jupiter Has Taken a Massive Meteor Hit (So Earth Didn't Have To)

On Monday, Jupiter took a massive hit from a meteor, which was spotted by amateur astronomers based in the US—and if previous evidence is anything to go by, it could have saved Earth from a massive collision in the process.

Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisconsin, was gazing at Jupiter on Monday when he saw a bright, white flash on the surface of the planet. When he posted his observation online, another astrophotographer, George Hall, discovered he'd unknowingly captured the massive explosion on video.

Turns out it was probably a meteor striking the surface of the planet—and you can watch the video below. In fact, this is evidence of Jupiter's protective effect as far as Earth is concerned. Because the planet is so massive Jupiter's gravitational field sucks a great many asteroids and comets towards it, which means that there are fewer threats to our humble little planet.

Which is just as well: a similar metoer strike in 2009 caused a bruise on the face of Jupiter the size of the Pacific Ocean. [George 1985 via Space]