Space

Juno skims Jupiter's pole in first orbital flyby

Juno skims Jupiter's pole in f...
Image returned from Juno of Jupiter's north pole
Image returned from Juno of Jupiter's north pole
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Image returned from Juno of Jupiter's north pole
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Image returned from Juno of Jupiter's north pole
Artist's concept of Juno passing over the pole of Jupiter
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Artist's concept of Juno passing over the pole of Jupiter

NASA's Juno orbiter has made its first and nearest orbital flyby of Jupiter, snapping the closest close-up ever of giant planet's north pole. The unmanned probe made its 130,000 mph (208,000 km/h) approach at 6:44 am PDT (13:44 GMT) on Saturday, passing within 2,600 mi (4,200 km) of Jupiter's cloud tops in the first and closest of 36 flybys it will make during its mission. NASA expects to release some of the images it captured – including the highest-resolution images ever taken of the planet and the first of its north and south poles – over the next two weeks.

The flyby was anxiously watched by mission control because this was not only the nearest that any probe has ever come to Jupiter, but also because the close pass was designed to avoid the planet's deadly bands of radiation. NASA says that the orbiter came through unscathed and that telemetry indicates that it is in good health. This was also the first time that all of Juno's scientific instruments were online at the same time.

Juno was launched in August 2011 and arrived at Jupiter on July 4 this year after a roundabout journey that sent it on a flyby of Earth in 2013. Its purpose is to return the highest-resolution images of Jupiter in history with a special emphasis on the north and south polar regions. In addition, it will study Jupiter's early history, determine the deep structure of the planet, and study its magnetic fields and the giant aurorae at the poles.

Artist's concept of Juno passing over the pole of Jupiter
Artist's concept of Juno passing over the pole of Jupiter

NASA says that there are 35 more flybys of Jupiter scheduled for its 20-month mission with Saturday's the nearest of the lot. On February 20, 2018, it will make a controlled dive into the Jovian atmosphere, where it will burn up to avoid biological contamination of Jupiter's moons.

"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," says Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us."

The space agency expects to release high-resolution images from the flyby over the next two weeks as they are received and processed.

Source: NASA

2 comments
Nathaneal Blemings
This is extremely exciting, and I can't wait for more photos. But based on the one photo that is being showed, am I the only person who thought it would be abit closer to the planet? Maby its an early photo before its closest.
To give some reason on why I thought it would be closer, look for example at photos of the earth from the space station. In those photos when directly looking at the earth they take up the whole image(and quite abit beyond the edges). Now the space station is only 250 miles above earth, and this probe is going to be(or has been) 2,600 miles above jupiter, but the diameter of earth is 7,900 miles versus jupiter being 86,800 miles. I would have thought based on the proportions we could expect similarly vast/large resolution pictures of details of jupiter like we see on earth(even if the details are less recognisable).
But the picture im seeing looks like something someone could have just made with one of the images we already have from previous probes or even something from the hubble. Although I don't mean to make it sound like I don't think its authentic because I do and its a very cool picture, I just hope there is going to be better ones is all. I think it would be so amazing to have some really good closeup/high resolution pictures of jupiter in all her glory.
Nathaneal Blemings
According to the website that photo was taken something like 440,000 miles from jupiter, so the photos from 2,200 miles should be spectacular.