NASA’s Juno sends first view from Jupiter orbit

By AG Staff Writer / NASA 13 July 2016
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This is the first in-orbit view from JunoCam, taken when NASA’s Juno spacecraft was 4.3 million kilometres from Jupiter.

‘JUNOCAM’, THE CAMERA aboard NASA’S Juno spacecraft – which made history last week when it successfully entered orbit around Jupiter – is now operational and sending data back to Earth, including this first colour image of Jupiter, also showing three of the planet’s four largest moons.

The image was taken on Sunday, 10 July at 0530 UTC, when the spacecraft was 4.3 million kilometres from the gas giant, our Solar System’s biggest planet, on the outbound leg of its orbit.

Visible in the image is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (a giant, spinning storm that is about three times bigger than Earth), and three of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons – Io, Europa and Ganymede.

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According to NASA, the first high-resolution images of Jupiter will be taken on 27 August, when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter.

“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, USA.

“We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles,” he added.

During its mission, Juno will circle Jupiter 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops – as close as about 4,100 kilometres. During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.