First In-Orbit View of Jupiter From Juno

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This color view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft was obtained at 1:30 PM, EDT, July 10, 2016 when the spacecraft was 4.3 million Kms (2.7 million miles) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The composite image was produced from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC). Clearly visible are Jupiter’s stratified cloud bands and the Great Red Spot along with three of the massive planet’s four Galilean moons, Io, the closest orbit to Jupiter, Europa and Ganymede. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

The JunoCam camera aboard NASA’s Juno mission is operational and transmitting data after the spacecraft’s July 4 arrival at Jupiter. Juno’s visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine, placing itself into orbit around the solar system’s largest planet. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant Jupiter are still a few weeks away.

“This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter’s extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles.”

Said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona:

“JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit. The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter.”

JunoCam is a visible-light color camera designed to capture remarkable images of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops and was included on the spacecraft specifically for public engagement, As Juno’s eyes, it will provide a wide-field view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft’s other instruments. Although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission’s vital science instruments.

To date, the Juno team is currently working hard to post all images obtained by JunoCam on the mission’s public website.

During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, sailing low over the planet’s cloud tops at about 4,100 kms (2,600 miles). During these flybys, it will probe Jupiter’s cloud decks to study the mighty planet’s aurorae in an effort to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike-and yet it is the most precious thing we have

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