Paul Riddell linked a couple of interesting items this week that relate to Jupiter, space exploration, and how lame we've become at it. Here is an article about the end of the Galileo probe and the general lack of interest in space in the US, which is tied back to science fiction and its failings as a genre in recent years. Also, check out these animations of Galileo's final plunge.
And finally, NASA released a photo of Jupiter that was taken by the Cassini probe as it went by. (Cassini is on its way to Saturn.) Technically a mosaid of small photos, the released image is billed as "the best picture of Jupiter ever", with the colors unaltered this time. (Previous photos used false color enhancement to make the cloud details easier to see. Image alteration for study purposes is common in astronomy; a good example is those topographical images of the Venusian surface that were made some years ago, in which the topography is exaggerated.) The image really is pretty amazing: check it out here. That is one amazing image. I can't wait to see what Cassini reveals about Saturn in 2004.