Thanklessly, Jupiter continues its role of catastrophe mitigator, absorbing the vast majority of the large and hazardous objects that might otherwise interrupt life on earth. I remember the summer of Shoemaker-Levy 9, twenty five years ago now, and enraptured as a child by the spectacle. first how it chopped the comet up into bite size pieces and we carefully observed the disintegration from instruments impossibly dreamt and built and tuned and focused to the very instant, on another world, in which the threat of extinction was tamed. It protects — maybe not forever, but maybe just long enough.

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