Juno spacecraft offers spectacular image of Jupiter as it flies by

Jupiter as seen from the Juno spacecraft. Courtesy: NASA.gov

Jupiter as seen from the Juno spacecraft. Courtesy: NASA.gov

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Launched a little over five years ago, early in August 2011, the Juno spacecraft finally arrived at the largest planet in the solar system on July 4 this year. Since then, the spacecraft has been gathering multitudes of information. Part of the mission is for Juno to complete 36 flybys of the gas giant, the first of which occurred this past Saturday, Aug 27. It also happened to be when Juno would be closest to the planet in its entire journey: just 2,600 miles above its atmospheric clouds and moving at a speed of 130,000 miles per hour relative to the planet itself. This first flyby also provided the first opportunity for all of the instruments on board to be actively scanning the planet, including JunoCam, the camera on board the craft offering some of the clearest image of the planet we have to date, one of which has already been sent back to Earth, seen below:

Jupiter as seen from the Juno spacecraft. Courtesy: NASA.gov

Jupiter as seen from the Juno spacecraft. Courtesy: NASA.gov

Juno is in an orbit never before obtained around Jupiter and will offer the first high resolution photos and instrument readings of the Jovian atmosphere and the north and south poles. In fact, Juno is the first probe to orbit an outer planet from pole to pole. The remainder of the data and images, including the highest resolution photos of the planet’s atmosphere, will be released over the next several weeks. Juno will spend until February of 2017 orbiting Juno and completing the remainder of its 36 flybys.