Juno set for a (relatively) close brush with the clouds of Jupiter
NASA's Juno spacecraft is set for aclose encounter with one of the most visually striking and enigmaticbodies in our solar system – the planet Jupiter. The probe launchedfrom Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Aug. 5, 2011, and having entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4th of this year, will comecloser to the planet than any spacecraft before it.
Juno was able to snap images of Jupiter alongside a number of her moons prior to orbital capture. For theorbital insertion process Juno had all of its scientific equipmentswitched off in order to prepare for the rocket burn that, in theend, successfully inserted the probe into a polar orbit.
The flyby, whichis set to commence at 8:51 a.m. EDT on the 27th of August,will be the nearest of 35 close encounters currently planned for theambitious mission. During tomorrow's maneuver, Juno willbe travelling at a velocity of 130,000 mph (208,000 km/h) relative tothe gas giant, and at its closest point will orbit a mere 2,500 miles (4,200 km) from Jupiter's churning upper cloud layer.
Every one ofJuno's eight scientific instruments will be operational during theflyby, collecting a wide range of data that will allow scientistsacross the globe to begin unraveling the planet's secrets. Whilst an in-depth analysis of this data is not likely to be released for sometime, the public can look forward to the release of a select fewimages captured by the spacecraft's JunoCam instrument early nextweek.
The release will likely include the highest-everresolution shots of Jupiter's polar regions ... prime desktop material.