Like any good tourist, NASA's Juno deep-space probe is sending snapshots to the folks back home. The spacecraft's first image from Jupiter since its dramatic arrival around the planet on July 4 shows three of the planet's four largest moons, Europa, Io, and Ganymede as well as details on Jupiter, such as its famous Red Spot.
The image was taken on July 10 at 10:30 am PDT. It was the first image captured after the spacecraft's JunoCam was reactivated after being taken offline four days before arrival to conserve battery power for the 35-minute engine burn that placed Juno into orbit around Jupiter and was taken from a distance of 2.7 million mi (4.3 million km) from the planet.
Juno is currently in a temporary 53.5-day orbit that will carry it over Jupiter's poles. Another course correction burn in October will place it in highly eccentric 14-day orbit that will bring it within 2,600 mi (4,100 km) of the cloud tops and below the deadly bands of radiation that encircle the planet. From here the probe will study Jupiter's origins, structure, atmosphere, aurorae, and magnetosphere.
NASA says that this initial image indicates that Juno has survived its first close encounter with Jupiter without the local radiation degrading its systems. The first high-resolution images are scheduled to be taken on August 27 during Juno's next close pass.
Despite its ability to send back the highest resolution images yet of Jupiter, NASA does not regard JunoCam as a scientific instrument. Its primary purpose is to encourage public participation in the mission, though the pictures may be of use to scientists.
The time-lapse video below shows an artists impression of Juno's approach to Jupiter.
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